Former Dodger player Yasiel Puig Valdes agreed to plead guilty to one charge of lying to federal authorities about his involvement with an illegal gambling website.
Puig, 31, allegedly lied to federal agents in January 2022 when asked about his relationship with an individual who worked for an illegal sports gambling business.
He was allegedly made aware that lying was a federal crime, and with his lawyer present, proceeded to say he only knew the individual through baseball affiliation and not gambling.
“When given the opportunity to be truthful about his involvement with Nix’s Gambling businesses, Mr. Puig chose not to,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Los Angeles Field Office Special Agent in Charge Tyler Hatcher. “Mr. Puig’s lies hindered the legal and procedural tasks of the investigators and prosecutors.”
In the agreement submitted by Puig, he said he made 899 bets on multiple sporting events from July 4, 2019 to September 29, 2019. Puig placed those bets through the individual, who was referred to as “Agent 1” in legal documents, and accrued a debt of $282,900 in gambling losses.
The debt was owed to Wayne Joseph Nix, 46, of Newport Coast, who allegedly ran the gambling website and was previously charged for running the illegal operation that involved not only former athletes, but current ones, as well.
Nix pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to operate an illegal sports gambling business and one count of filing a false tax return, on April 11 and will be sentenced on March 8, 2023.
On June 25, 2019, Puig allegedly withdrew $200,000 from a Bank of America branch in Glendale, California, then purchased two cashiers’ checks for $100,000 each that were made payable to a person referred to as “Individual A” in court documents.
Federal officials interviewing Puig showed him a copy of the cashiers’ checks, and he continued to state that he did not know the individuals involved, saying he placed the bets on an “unknown website” with an “unknown person.”
Months after the interview, Puig allegedly sent a voice message through WhatsApp, admitting to lying to the federal agents.
“Under our system of justice, no one is above the law,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said. “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.”
The charge Puig faces can lead to up to five years in federal prison, and he has agreed to pay a fine of at least $55,000.
Puig is currently playing in the Kiwoom Heroes in the South Korean KBO baseball league.
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