Ex-Angels employee Eric Kay sentenced to 22 years in Tyler Skaggs case

FORT WORTH — Eric Kay, the former director of communications for the Los Angeles Angels, was sentenced to 22 years in prison on Tuesday after being convicted in February of supplying the drugs that caused the 2019 death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs .

District Judge Terry Means said he had passed the 20-year minimum that Kay faced due to remarks he made in jail.

Prosecutors released a tape of a phone conversation from prison in which Kay, whose calls were monitored and recorded, said of Skaggs: “I hope people realize what a piece of s—…. Well, he’s dead, so fuck him.

Means said he was dreading sentencing Kay, 48, who was convicted of drug distribution causing death, because he believed the mandatory minimum sentences were “excessive”. But the judge said the prison conversations showed a ‘refusal to accept responsibility and even feel remorse for anything you caused’.

In his own remarks, Kay apologized for “spitting vitriol” at Skaggs, prosecutors, and the jury, in this and other prison correspondence.

“I wanted to blame Tyler for all of this,” Kay said, calling her remarks “so fake and rude.”

The emotional sentencing hearing brought a grim end to this phase of a legal saga that began when Skaggs, 27, was found dead in a hotel room in Southlake, Texas on July 1 2019, with oxycodone and fentanyl in his system. Kay said he would appeal his conviction.

Kay was, like Skaggs, an illicit opioid user. During Kay’s trial in February, witnesses, including several Major League Baseball players, said he shared black-market painkillers with them, although the government did not suggest he did. had done for profit.

Federal prosecutor Erinn Martin said Kay was in Skaggs’ hotel room when he choked on his own vomit — a claim based on key card evidence — and that he didn’t either. no longer tried to save the pitcher because “he panicked and decided to save himself and his job”, or because he himself was unfit.

Martin said Tuesday that Kay knew the drugs he gave to Skaggs were “probably or potentially counterfeit” and may contain fentanyl.

Kay, who did not speak in his own defense at the trial, did not directly address the government’s version of events on Tuesday but expressed remorse for his actions, blaming his addiction.

“I will spend the rest of my life in repairs,” said Kay, who wore an orange jumpsuit and was chained to his arms and legs, during remarks during which he sometimes sobbed.

Skaggs’ family members said Kay was responsible for the pitcher’s death in their own courtroom remarks on Tuesday.

“Eric Kay knew that the drugs he was giving my son and other players [were] containing fentanyl,” Skaggs’ mother Debbie said, adding that “a strict sentence…has the power to deter people from supplying deadly drugs to others.”

“I am convinced that those who risk the lives of others with deadly drugs must be held accountable,” said Skaggs’ widow, Carli. “If anything good can come out of Tyler’s death and this lawsuit, it will keep someone else’s wife from getting the call I made.”

“I know that no matter how long Eric Kay gets, it won’t bring Tyler back,” Skaggs’ father, Darrell, said in a statement read in court by Tyler’s aunt. “But the longer he’s incarcerated, the safer everyone is.”

Kay, who grew up in upper-middle-class Southern California and attended Pepperdine University before earning a six-figure salary with the Angels, had no criminal record. But Martin, the prosecutor, said Kay’s correspondence from jail was proof he hadn’t learned his lesson.

In emails and phone calls, Kay referred to the ‘garbage Skaggs family’, ridiculed jurors as ‘rednecks’ with missing teeth and referred to a prosecutor’s ‘horrendous makeup’ federal. Martin also noted that Kay was allegedly caught with suboxone in prison.

“That kind of person does it again,” Martin said. “Eric Kay is not going to stop.”

Kay’s attorney, Cody Cofer, said his client’s prison remarks reflected the resentment of a man coming to terms with being separated from his family for two decades. “The idea that he’s likely to reoffend just isn’t supported,” Cofer said.

Means said Kay is expected to be jailed near his home in California, where he has three sons, the youngest of whom is 12. Kay’s middle child Carter, 20, told the sentencing hearing that his father ‘wouldn’t do anything wrong out of his own free will’, and urged the judge to be lenient .

“My little brother needs him the most,” Carter Kay said. “I haven’t seen him smile in a while.”

Skaggs’ family filed a lawsuit against Kay and the Angels, claiming the team “knew or should have known” that Kay was a drug addict, and that placing him near athletes playing through injuries created a ” perfect storm” leading to the death of the caster. death.

The family is represented by Texas attorney Rusty Hardin. “Today’s sentence does not relate to the number of years the defendant received,” a family spokesperson said following the ruling. “The real issue in this case is holding accountable the people who distribute the deadly drug fentanyl.”

The Angels have denied the allegations in the family’s lawsuit. An Angels spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday afternoon that “our sympathy goes out to the Skaggs family on this difficult day.”

Since Kay’s trial, one of his lawyers, Reagan Wynn, has been suspended from practicing law after a Texas bar panel found he “did not explain” to another client the facts of his criminal case. At a May hearing in Kay’s case, his other attorney at the time, Michael Molfetta, appeared to blame Wynn for leaving Kay without representation in a meeting with probation officers before his sentencing.

“I’ve always been part of a group email on probation, and I’m wrong — and that’s on me — I just assumed Reagan was handling it,” Molfetta told a judge . “I would text Mr. Wynn and say, ‘Hey, got it? And throughout our performance, he apparently doesn’t like the lyrics, because he never really got back to me.

Molfetta has also since left the case. In an interview with The Washington Post, Sandy Kay said her son received a poor legal defense.

“Tyler Skaggs was a grown man who deliberately chose to engage in dangerous behavior that ended in his death,” Sandra Kay said. “And holding someone else responsible for that is a great injustice.”

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