Yasiel Puig Pleads Guilty To Lying To Federal Agents About Illegal Sports Gambling Involvement
Picture by Getty Images. Pictured: Yasiel Puig.
Yasiel Puig — who played in the Major Leagues for seven years and made an All-Star team in 2014 — pled guilty to lying to federal agents about his involvement with an illegal gambling operation.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced the news on Monday after unsealing court documents.
Puig pled guilty to one count of making false statements and has agreed to pay a fine of at least $55,000. The 31-year-old will make an appearance in court on Tuesday.
Puig began placing bets in May 2019 with an associate working with Wayne Joseph Nix, a former Major Leaguer who ran an illegal sports betting operation. Nix allegedly had clientele that included current and former professional athletes, coaches, broadcasters and business managers.
Puig is the first of those figures to have been outed by name.
Nix has since pled guilty for operating the business, which had made the 45-year-old $1.5 million in income in 2017 and 2018, according to documents.
As for Puig, he contributed about $282,900 in losses after a month of betting from May to June 2019, according to the DoJ.
To repay the debts, Puig withdrew $200,000 from a bank in Glendale, Calif. but did not immediately send the checks due a dispute over his balance. Nix had refused to allow Puig access to the websites unless Puig paid his gambling debts.
The then-Cincinnati Reds player sent the money and was allowed to use the site again. He proceeded to place 899 additional wagers on the website from July 2019 to Sept. 2019, targeting tennis, football and basketball games.
The DoJ did not specify whether Puig bet on baseball games.
The $200,000 checks Puig sent are paramount to this case. The DoJ says Puig repeatedly lied to federal agents about his connections to Nix and Nix's associate, claiming that he only knew them through baseball — even after federal agents presented a copy of one of the checks he sent out in June of 2019.
Puig was recorded having hundreds of phone and text conversations with Nix's associate. The ballplayer also was caught on a voice message recording in which he admitted he lied to federal agents.
Puig could be sentenced up to five years.
Earlier this year, a Washington Post investigation found that Puig had settled with two women who accused him of sexual assault in 2017. The settlement had not been disclosed until the newspaper story was published.
This came after Puig was sued for sexual battery in 2020 for an incident that was alleged to have occurred at a Los Angeles Lakers game two years earlier.
Puig responded to these series of allegations with a statement in 2021.
"Almost as soon as I got here, the media pushed certain narratives about me because it sold more newspapers," Puig wrote on Twitter. "They didn't understand my deficits here because of my lack of assimilation. They didn't understand my culture or how my background played an important role, and I also didn't know how to help them understand. My color, my size and my poor communication skills made me easy to pick on."