Request by attorneys in Eric Kay case indicates a plea deal might be in the works

A portrait of the late Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs sits atop the jerseys on the pitcher's mound at Angel Stadium
A portrait of the late Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs sits atop the jerseys on the pitcher’s mound at Angel Stadium on July 12, 2019.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Federal prosecutors and attorneys for ex-Angels employee Eric Kay asked a judge Friday to push back the deadline for Kay’s indictment, indicating a possible plea bargain.

Kay, a longtime member of the Angels’ media relations department, was charged earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth with distributing fentanyl in connection with the overdose death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs.

“Both parties believe that with additional time in which to gather information about the defendant and the circumstances surrounding the events leading to the pending case, a plea agreement may be reached, thus negating the need for an indictment,” the joint motion said, “or the parties might be in a better position to move forward with the case in the most efficient manner.”

Michael Molfetta, Kay’s Newport Beach attorney, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The word ‘others’ is an ominous presence in the Tyler Skaggs criminal complaint, indicating the probe could go well beyond former Angels employee Eric Kay.

Aug. 8, 2020


Kay was arrested in Fort Worth on Aug. 7 and made his first appearance in front of U.S. District Judge Jeffrey L. Cureton the same day. The federal Speedy Trial Act requires an indictment to be returned within 30 days of the defendant’s arrest, which in Kay’s case would be Sept. 6. The latest motion seeks to extend that date to Sept. 24.

The judge granted the motion Friday afternoon.

“It’s much easier to negotiate before an indictment,” said Craig Mordock, a veteran criminal defense attorney in New Orleans who is experienced in federal cases. “Once that indictment is handed down, that sort of becomes gospel to the prosecutors.”

The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint against Kay alleged he had a “history of narcotic transactions” with Skaggs and that Kay distributed “these pills to [Skaggs] and others in their place of employment and while they were working.”

Skaggs died in his hotel room July 1, 2019, in Southlake, Texas, before the Angels were scheduled to play the Texas Rangers. A toxicology report found fentanyl and oxycodone in his system. Investigators discovered a counterfeit oxycodone pill laced with fentanyl in Skaggs’ room. The affidavit accused Kay of visiting Skaggs’ room in response to a request from Skaggs for pills late at night June 30.

“It was later determined that but for the fentanyl in [Skaggs’] system, [he] would not have died,” the affidavit said.

According to court records, Kay hasn’t entered a plea. In a statement on the day of Kay’s arrest, Molfetta said his client “will patiently wait for his opportunity to make his story known.” If convicted on current charges, Kay faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison.

After Kay’s arrest, Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, said the investigation into the matter is “open and active.”

Times staff writer Mike DiGiovanna contributed to this report.