Ex-Angels employee accused of distributing fentanyl in connection with Tyler Skaggs’ death

Ex-Angels employee accused of distributing fentanyl

FORT WORTH, Texas — A former employee of the Los Angeles Angels is accused of distributing fentanyl in connection with the overdose death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs last year.

Eric Prescott Kay, 45, a longtime public relations employee and director of communications with the major league baseball team, was arrested and appeared in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday morning, The Orange County Register reported.

If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in federal prison, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Texas. The complaint, filed last week, was unsealed Friday.

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Kay voluntarily surrendered to authorities Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Skaggs, 27, died in his Southlake, Texas, hotel room on July 1, 2019, before the Angels were to play the Texas Rangers in Arlington. He was discovered on his bed, fully clothed, with no signs of trauma, the Times reported.

According to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office, Skaggs died from a mixture of ethanol, fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, the Star-Telegram of Fort Worth reported. The coroner ruled that Skaggs choked on his vomit after ingesting the toxic mix of alcohol and painkillers, according to KTLA.

Prosecutors accused Kay of providing the fentanyl to Skaggs and others, who were not named, according to the complaint.

“It was later determined that but for the fentanyl in (Skaggs') system, (he) would not have died,” the complaint said.

The Angels released a statement Friday, writing that, “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.”

“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose -- coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career -- should be a wakeup call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox said. “Suppressing the spread of fentanyl is a priority for the Department of Justice.”

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, Kay was supplying fentanyl since 2017, the Register reported.

During its investigation, the DEA determined that Kay had met with Skaggs and exchanged text messages with him regarding the drugs the night before the pitcher’s death.

“Fentanyl does not discriminate in its potential deadly consequences,” DEA agent in charge Eduardo A. Chávez said. “With the prevalence of fentanyl in many of the counterfeit prescription drugs sold on the streets, every pill taken could be your last. The Dallas DEA mourns not only with the Skaggs family, but with all families who have endured loved ones taken too soon due to a drug overdose.”