Former MLB player Yasiel Puig to plead guilty for lying to federal agents in illegal gambling investigation

Former MLB player Yasiel Puig has agreed to plead guilty to a felony charge for lying to federal agents about bets on sporting events that he placed with an illegal gambling operation, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Puig has pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements. This carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.

Puig has agreed to pay a fine of at least $55,000. He will make his initial appearance in U.S. District Court on Nov. 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” — worked on behalf of an illegal gambling business conducted by Wayne Joseph Nix, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In January 2022, federal investigators interviewed Puig and his lawyer. Puig allegedly lied several times, falsely stating that he only knew the third party from baseball and not through gambling. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Puig discussed sports betting with the third party hundreds of times via phone and text message.

Puig also allegedly lied about not knowing the person who instructed him to purchase $200,000 worth of cashier’s checks to be wired to one of Nix’s gambling clients. Puig falsely said that he placed a bet online 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, per the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Puig’s agent, Lisette Carnet, released a statement Tuesday.

“The government’s indictment arises out of a single interview (Puig) gave back in January via Zoom,” Carnet said. “He came to the interview feeling rushed, unprepared, without criminal counsel with him, and also lacked his own interpreter. Given his history growing up in authoritarian Cuba, government interviews are triggering and only worsen his ADHD symptoms and other mental health struggles, for which he is in treatment. He would have benefitted from this care at the time of the interview.”

Carnet added: “Puig took responsibility, and this agreement with the government should end this whole unfortunate incident.”

Puig, 31, played for the Los Angeles Dodgers (2013 to 2018), Cincinnati Reds (2019) and Cleveland Guardians (2019) in his MLB career. On Dec. 8, 2021, Puig signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Kiwoom Heroes in South Korea’s KBO League.

(Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

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