Ex-Angels employee charged in Tyler Skaggs’ death supplied players with drugs, feds say
Federal prosecutors plan to present testimony from “approximately” five Major League Baseball players who allege they received oxycodone from a former Angels employee who faces trial in the fatal overdose of pitcher Tyler Skaggs, according to a court filing late Friday.
The filing, which outlines some of the evidence prosecutors will introduce at the trial, accuses former Angels communications director Eric Kay of being the “singular source” who supplied oxycodone to the players in amounts of “two to three pills while others would ask for up to 20 pills.”
“The evidence will also demonstrate that Kay often coordinated the distribution through text messages or through conversations involving the victim [Skaggs],” the filing says. “This witness testimony will in many instances be corroborated by text message communications…. Evidence will also demonstrate that Kay was motivated to obtain these pills because Kay could himself use some of the pills that he obtained for the players. It therefore provides context and background to the distribution at issue in the indictment.”
Though the document says Kay was providing “controlled substances, including oxycodone,” to Angels players since 2017, it does not name them or say whether the five who are prepared to testify play for the Angels. Kay offered Angels memorabilia and game tickets while soliciting drugs online and overdosed at the stadium about three months before Skaggs’ death, the filing says.
A grand jury indicted Kay in October on counts of distributing the drug that allegedly led to Skaggs’ death and conspiring to “possess with the intent to distribute” fentanyl “beginning in or before 2017.” Kay has pleaded not guilty.
After several delays, Kay is scheduled for trial Oct. 4 in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth. His Fort Worth-based attorney, William Reagan Wynn, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in Southlake, Texas, on July 1, 2019, before the Angels were scheduled to start a series against the Texas Rangers. The Tarrant County medical examiner found that the 27-year-old died as a result of “mixed ethanol, fentanyl and oxycodone intoxication” that led to choking on his vomit. Investigators found a counterfeit oxycodone pill containing fentanyl in his room.
Eric Kay, the Angels’ former communications director, has pleaded not guilty to federal charges in Tyler Skaggs’ death.
Though prosecutors have been tight-lipped about the investigation, the filing Friday provides the most new details on their case against Kay since his arrest last year.
The 19-page document includes chat transcripts from online auction site OfferUp between Kay and several sellers whose listings included keywords such as “M30,” “Roxy” or “Blue” — all shorthand for oxycodone. The filing says Kay communicated with nine sellers on the site from March through June 2019 “in a manner that indicated he was attempting to obtain controlled substances from individuals.”
In one exchange, Kay responded to a post on the site by a person named “Sharky” offering “Roxy shirts size m30 color blue” starting March 22, 2019.
“10 for 240 cool?” Kay wrote.
He asked if the product was legitimate, part of repeated concerns about whether the items he discussed with sellers were real, since cutting oxycodone pills with the cheaper — and much more powerful — fentanyl is commonplace.
“Ok cool. Pharm grade? No fet. Sh*t is scary,” Kay wrote, according to the transcript.
Later, Kay appeared to offer a baseball autographed by Angels star outfielder Mike Trout as part of the deal.
“U have a son? Coud hook him with a signed Trout ball for a trade if U want?” Kay wrote.
“We dodger fans my boi lol,” Sharky responded.
In another exchange that started June 8, 2019, Kay offered Angels tickets to a different seller advertising an “M30 shirt.”
“Any chance u can get to Angel Stadium? Where I work. Could leave u tickets for the game if u wanted,” Kay wrote.
He added: “My Bad. That Sounds weird. Ha. I just can’t leave work tonight.”
The Angels hosted the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium that night.
Prosecutors said in another exchange that Kay communicated with a seller on the site April 21, 2019, the day he overdosed “likely on oxycodone,” was brought home from Angel Stadium by a co-worker and admitted to a hospital.
Prosecutors said Kay used the name “Walt” on the auction site, but the account was associated with his work email and his phone number.
“While the government anticipates that phone records from the days leading up to June 30, 2019, as well as on June 30, 2019, will demonstrate additional sources of supply for Kay, including individuals he spoke to on the phone, the OfferUp evidence is part of the story as well because it shows that Kay was involved in a conspiracy with several individuals and was obtaining drugs in several ways,” the filing says. “In other words, this evidence is intrinsic to the conspiracy charged.”
Prosecutors allege in the filing — though they don’t provide specifics — that Kay “obtained the pills while at Angel Stadium on June 30, 2019,” before the team flew to Texas that evening. The filing says “that Kay would communicate with individuals during the workday and even ask them to deliver oxycodone pills to Angel Stadium, showing that he had the opportunity to obtain the pills he distributed to [Skaggs] on June 30, 2019.”
The filing also says law enforcement searched Kay’s office at Angel Stadium in December 2019. Two items that were seized from his desk had traces of various substances, including oxycodone and fentanyl.
“Not only was it oxycodone pills, but it was residue and indications associated with the exact types of drugs found in [Skaggs’] system at the time of his death,” the filing says.
In June, Skaggs’ family sued Kay, the Angels and former vice president of communications Tim Mead in Los Angeles County Superior Court and Tarrant County District Court. The family alleged the Angels “should have known Kay was dealing drugs to players.” The Angels called the allegations “baseless and irresponsible.”
After Skaggs’ death, the team retained a former federal prosecutor to conduct an internal investigation, which found that no one in team management was aware of “any employee providing opioids to any player.”
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