One-time Los Angeles Dodgers star Yasiel Puig could be spending up to five years in prison after lying to federal investigators during an investigation looking into an illegal gambling ring.
On Monday, the Department of Justice released a statement on Puig’s offense, noting that the former outfielder — currently playing for the Korean Baseball Organization’s Kiwoom Heroes with the hope of returning to MLB — pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements.
Puig is additionally ordered to pay a fine totaling $55,000.
“A former Major League Baseball (MLB) player has agreed to plead guilty to a federal charge for lying to federal law enforcement officials about bets on sporting events that he placed with an illegal gambling operation,” the DOJ’s statement read in part.
Puig Lied, Now He’s Fried
Puig’s gambling habits allegedly began in May 2019. He quickly accrued $282,900 in losses and delivered two $100,000 checks to Wayne Joseph Nix.
Nix was the focus of the illegal gambling business — operating in Newport Coast, Calif. —investigated by the feds.
During state elections on Nov. 8, Californians resoundingly rejected Prop(s) 26 and 27, which could have paved the way for legalized sports betting in the legislatively rigid state.
Through the illegal third-party betting site, Puig added up to 899 bets in a three-month period (July-Sept) in 2019. As reported by KTLA5, there was no mention in the DOJ’s address that Puig placed bets on MLB action, noting that Puig bet on tennis, football and basketball events.
U.S. State Attorney Martin Estrada condemned the ex-baseball player’s violation, promising firm consequences as a result of lying to the feds.
“Under our system of justice, no one is above the law,” Estrada added in the statement. “The integrity of our nation’s criminal justice system depends on people telling the truth, and those who fail to abide by this simple principle must face consequences.”
HSI Los Angeles Acting Special Agent in Charge Eddy Wang reiterated the DOJ’s pursuit of decisive action against Puig.
“Lying to federal agents is a serious offense,” Wang said. “HSI Los Angeles and our partners will actively pursue those that seek to hinder the fair administration of justice.”
Puig splashed on the scene with the Dodgers between 2013 and 2018. He led an All-Star campaign in 2019 after recording 16 home runs, 69 RBI and a .296 batting average. Puig split his final season (2019) in the majors between the Cincinnati Reds and then-named Cleveland Indians.
Follow Alejandro Avila on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela