FORT WORTH, Texas — Eric Kay, a former director of communications for the Los Angeles Angels, has been charged with illegally supplying drugs to pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who died in a hotel room in Texas last year, ESPN reported.
Skaggs, 27, was found dead on July 1, 2019, after police responded to a report of an unconscious man in a hotel room in Southlake, Texas. He was pronounced dead at the scene after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office said last August, Law Officer reported.
The DEA investigation resulted in Kay’s arrested. He was taken into custody in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first appearance Friday in federal court, according to Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Kay has been charged with illegal possession with intent to distribute a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl, a controlled substance.
“Tyler Skaggs’ overdose — coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career — should be a wake-up call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” Nealy Cox said.
According to the criminal complaint affidavit, Skaggs sent text messages to Kay on June 30, asking for him to deliver pills to his hotel room.
Moreover, Kay made a big splash with a public acknowledgment last October while in outpatient treatment for his own opioid addiction
“I felt and continue to feel that it is time for everyone to stand up and take responsibility for their respective roles in this,” he said in the statement issued by his attorney, Michael Molfetta. “Nothing anyone does will ever provide closure for the Skaggs family. I can’t, the Angels can’t, and the courts can’t, regardless of what happens there. But at least I can help them ‘know’ instead of ‘wonder.’ My hope is that there is some peace in that for them.”
Molfetta told Outside the Lines that Kay was concerned he was going to be blamed for Skaggs’ death, and said that, despite obtaining oxycodone for Skaggs for years, Kay did not think he provided the pills he says Skaggs snorted the night he died, Law Officer reported last year.
The Angels communications director also provided DEA agents with the names of five additional players that he believes used opioids while playing with the Angels. The ballplayers were not identified in the report. According to Kay, Skaggs asked him to obtain the drugs on behalf of those players.
Rusty Hardin, the Texas attorney representing Skaggs’ family, issued a statement after Kay’s arrest and court appearance.
“The family is deeply heartbroken to learn that Tyler would be alive today were it not for a pill containing fentanyl that was provided by the Director of Communications of the Angels,” Hardin said. “We note that the Angels say they commissioned an independent investigation that concluded no one in management was aware that a team employee was supplying illegal drugs to Tyler. We encourage the Angels to make that report public.
“We are relieved that no one else who was supplied drugs by this Angels executive met the same fate as Tyler. While nothing will replace the loss of Tyler, we are very grateful to federal prosecutors for their diligent and ongoing work.”
The seven-page autopsy showed 38 nanograms per milliliter of oxycodone, an opioid medication prescribed to treat severe pain, and 3.8 nanograms per milliliter of fentanyl, a highly concentrated painkiller that is significantly stronger than oxycodone. It also showed a blood alcohol level of 0.122%; 0.08% is considered legally impaired when operating a motor vehicle.
After the autopsy was released, Skaggs’ family revealed through legal counsel that an unnamed Angels employee was tied to an ongoing investigation by the Southlake Police Department.
“The Angels Organization has fully cooperated with Law Enforcement and Major League Baseball,” the Angels said in a statement Friday. “Additionally, in order to comprehensively understand the circumstances that led to his death, we hired a former federal prosecutor to conduct an independent investigation.
“We learned that there was unacceptable behavior inconsistent with our code of conduct, and we took steps to address it. Our investigation also confirmed that no one in management was aware, or informed, of any employee providing opioids to any player, nor that Tyler was using opioids.”
If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in prison. Federal court records do not list an attorney representing him, and an attorney who previously spoke on his behalf did not immediately return a message seeking comment, according to ESPN.
Law Officer is the only major law enforcement publication and website owned and operated by law enforcement. This unique facet makes Law Officer much more than just a publishing company but is a true advocate for the profession.