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Judge rebukes prosecutors for accusing Angels of being evasive in Eric Kay drug case

A view of a Los Angeles Angels jersey with a patch to honor Tyler Skaggs.
A view of a Los Angeles Angels jersey with a patch to honor Tyler Skaggs, who wore the No. 45.
(Tom Pennington / Getty Images)

A federal judge sharply criticized the effort by prosecutors to compel the Angels to comply with a subpoena in the case against former employee Eric Kay and rejected their attempt in an order unsealed Tuesday.

“The government apparently has no idea what specific items it wants from the Angels; indeed, it has no idea whether any items other than those already produced even exist,” U.S. District Judge Terry Means wrote in the five-page document initially filed Oct. 7 in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth.

Prosecutors subpoenaed the Angels in late July, seeking information about members of the organization potentially distributing drugs, then accused the team of not cooperating. In response, the Angels said they have “produced thousands of pages of documents and an entire computer hard drive to the government in response to at least five subpoenas and requests for information” and coordinated interviews with “numerous” employees.

Eric Kay, the Angels’ former communications director, has pleaded not guilty to federal charges in Tyler Skaggs’ death.

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“The Court is not inclined to give its imprimatur to a government fishing expedition based solely on the speculation of counsel that other unproduced documents must exist,” Means wrote. “The Angels have presented evidence demonstrating that, other than the documents withheld as part of its privilege log, all responsive documents have already been produced. The government has wholly failed to present any evidence tending to suggest otherwise.”

Kay is accused of conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute oxycodone and fentanyl since at least 2017 and with distributing the fentanyl that prosecutors allege led to pitcher Tyler Skaggs’ overdose death in a Texas hotel room on July 1, 2019. Kay has pleaded not guilty.

Means’ order quoted from a declaration by an attorney representing the Angels, Nicole Van Dyk, saying the team gave the government almost 1 million pages of records by November 2019. Those documents included “all records related to Kay and his communications with [Skaggs] …”

The Angels describe federal prosecutors’ request as a ‘fishing expedition’ after the team handed over more than 350,000 documents in the past 2 years.

The Angels asked Means to unseal his ruling last month, noting in a court filing the document didn’t contain any non-public information. Prosecutors opposed the move.

Kay’s trial, which was pushed to next year after a grand jury returned a superseding indictment last week, was delayed again Tuesday because of a scheduling conflict involving a prosecutor. The trial is now scheduled to start Feb. 8. It is the seventh trial date since Kay’s arrest in August 2020.


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