Former Angels PR Director Charged in Death of Tyler Skaggs

Former Angels PR Director Charged in Death of Tyler Skaggs
Los Angeles Angels public relations employee Eric Kay (L) joins the Angels players as they lay their jerseys on the pitcher's mound in honor of fallen teammate Tyler Skaggs after they won a combined no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., on July 12, 2019. (John McCoy/Getty Images)
City News Service

ANAHEIM, Calif. (CNS)—Former Angels public relations director Eric Kay has been indicted on two federal counts stemming from the 2019 overdose death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs, according to court papers obtained on Oct. 16.

Kay, 45, is charged with distributing the fentanyl that resulted in Skaggs' death. The indictment returned in Texas also alleges Kay and others who are not named conspired to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl beginning in or before 2017, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Dallas.

Kay, who was with the team for more than two decades, was arrested by federal authorities Aug. 7 on a charge of distributing fentanyl, but had not yet entered a plea.

Kay's attorney, Michael Molfetta, said his client was disappointed that prosecutors sought the indictment.

"Eric Kay has been cooperative with two separate offices of the United States Attorney's Office," Molfetta said. "He has been forthright and to his dismay the decision to seek an indictment obviously resulted in today's events.

"While Mr. Kay is eager to respond and to have his opportunity to tell his side of the story absent agenda, he agrees with his attorneys that the most prudent course of action is to let them do their talking in the proper forum, specifically the courtroom.

"With that said, he asks for everyone's patience before forming judgment so that all sides can be heard and facts are brought to light in a straightforward fashion and not skewed by innuendo or interpretation."

Skaggs, 27, was found dead in his hotel room at the Southlake Town Square Hilton on July 1, 2019. The Angels were staying at the hotel while in town to play the Texas Rangers.

The cause of the pitcher's death was listed as "mixed ethanol, fentanyl and oxycodone intoxication with terminal aspiration of gastric contents," meaning he essentially choked on vomit caused by his ingestion of the drugs and alcohol.

Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Geoffrey Lindenberg alleged in court papers that Kay and others conspired to distribute fentanyl beginning in 2017.

"During the course of the investigation, I learned that [Skaggs] and Kay had a history of narcotic transactions, including several exchanges wherein Kay acquired oxycodone pills for [Skaggs] and others from Kay's source[s] in the days leading up to and surrounding [Skaggs'] overdose death," Lindenberg wrote in the affidavit.

The Angels released a statement following Kay's arrest, saying the team continues to grieve Skaggs' death.

"The circumstances surrounding his death are a tragedy that has impacted countless individuals and families," according to the team.

"The Angels organization has fully cooperated with law enforcement and Major League Baseball. 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. As we try to heal from the loss of Tyler, we continue to work with authorities as they complete their investigation."

It was not immediately known when Kay would be arraigned.

Skaggs, a native of Woodland Hills and a graduate of Santa Monica High School, was one of the most popular players in the clubhouse and had been one of the Angels' most reliable pitchers in the 2019 season, going 7-7 with a 4.29 ERA in 79 2/3 innings across 15 starts.

He was 28-38 with a 4.41 ERA during a seven-year career that was interrupted by Tommy John surgery in 2014 and several other injuries.