Former MLB player Yasiel Puig has agreed to plead guilty to a felony charge of lying to federal agents about betting on sporting events he placed with an illegal gambling operation, according to the office of the United States Attorney for the Central District of California.
Puig pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements. This carries a maximum legal sentence of five years in federal prison.
Puig agreed to pay a fine of at least $55,000. He will make his first appearance in United States District Court on November 15.
According to his plea agreement, Puig began placing bets in May 2019 on sporting events through a third party. This third party – identified in court documents as “Agent 1” – was working on behalf of an illegal gambling business run by Wayne Joseph Nix, according to the US Attorney’s office.
In January 2022, federal investigators interviewed Puig and his attorney. Puig allegedly repeatedly lied, falsely stating that he only knew the third party from baseball and not gambling. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Puig discussed sports betting with the third party hundreds of times over the phone and SMS.
Puig also allegedly lied that he didn’t know the person who asked him to buy $200,000 worth of bank checks to be wired to one of Nix’s gambling clients. Puig falsely claimed to have placed an online bet through an unknown person on an unknown website, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In March 2022, Puig admitted in a WhatsApp audio message that he lied to federal agents in January, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Puig, 31, played for the Los Angeles Dodgers (2013 to 2018), Cincinnati Reds (2019) and Cleveland Guardians (2019) during his MLB career. On December 8, 2021, Puig signed a one-year, million-dollar contract with the Kiwoom Heroes in the KBO League in South Korea.
(Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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