Former Dodgers Outfielder Yasiel Puig To Plead Guilty To Federal Charge For Lying About Illegal Gambling Operation

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 on sporting events with an illegal gambling operation, according to court documents.

The crime carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison. Puig has agreed to pay a fine of at least $55,000 and will make his initial appearance in United States District Court on Tuesday.

Puig’s plea agreement was filed on August 29. According to court documents, the one-time All-Star began placing bets on sporting events in May 2019 through a third party who worked for an illegal gambling operation run by Wayne Joseph Nix, a former Minor Leaguer.

By June 2019, Puig owed $282,900 to Nix’s gambling business. After paying off $200,000 of his losses and regaining access to Nix-controlled betting websites, Puig placed 899 additional bets on tennis, football and basketball games from July 4, 2019, to Sept. 29, 2019.

This past January, federal investigators interviewed Puig in the presence of his lawyer. The 31-year-old denied that he placed bets through the operation despite being warned that lying to federal agents is a crime.

“When given the opportunity to be truthful about his involvement with Nix’s gambling businesses, Mr. Puig chose not to,” IRS Criminal Investigation Los Angeles field office special agent in charge Tyler Hatcher said in a statement.

“Mr. Puig’s lies hindered the legal and procedural tasks of the investigators and prosecutors.”

Nix pleaded guilty on April 11 to one count of conspiracy to operate an illegal sports gambling business and one count of filing a false tax return. Former MLB player Erik Kristian Hiljus, an agent for Nix’s operation, also agreed to plead guilty to two counts of subscribing to false tax returns.

Yasiel Puig’s post-MLB career

Puig last appeared in a game with the Dodgers in 2018 but went on to play for the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds the following year.

Puig has since gone on to play for the Toros del Este of the Dominican Winter League and El Aguila de Veracruz of the Mexican League. He most recently was playing for the Kiwoom Heroes of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO).

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