According to court documents that were recently released to the public, Former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig has agreed to plead guilty to one count of making false statements to federal law enforcement officials regarding bets he placed in an illegal sports gambling operation.
This is unfortunate news for Puig, who seemed to be getting his career back on track with a strong season in Korea in 2022. Puig previously dealt with sexual assault allegations before being cleared and was trying to eventually make his way back to MLB. After being traded from the Dodgers to the Cincinnati Reds after the 2018 season, Puig played for Cincinnati and Cleveland Guardians in 2019 before eventually playing in the Mexican League and KBO.
Puig’s chances of returning to MLB are now next to zero as by pleading guilty, he agreed to pay a fine of at least $55,000 before appearing in court. If convicted, this crime carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.
Former Minor League player Wayne Nix was running an illegal gambling operation that Puig got involved with through a third party in 2019. As the court documents state, by June of 2019, Puig had owed $282,900 to the gambling business.
He paid off $200,000 of his losses which allowed him to continue betting, although from July-September of 2019 he was said to have played around 900 bets on sports like basketball, football and tennis to continue accumulating more debt. The report did not state that any bets were placed on baseball, however,
Puig was interviewed on the matter by federal investigators at the beginning of 2022 and in the presence of his lawyer, denied his involvement in the gambling operation. As everyone should know, lying to federal investigators is considered to be a significant crime.
Puig’s plea agreement was filed on August 29 and he first appeared in court on Tuesday.
Nix originally pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy to operate an illegal sports gambling business and filing a false tax return. His operation was believed to be running for two decades and included both current and former professional athletes.
Federal prosecutors also announced Monday that another former MLB player, Erik Kristian Hiljus of Los Angeles, had agreed to plead guilty to two counts of subscribing to false tax returns as an agent for Nix’s operation.
It remains to be seen how things will play out for Puig, but he very well could be looking at some prison time if found guilty.