By Kay Jones and Ray Sanchez, CNN
Updated: Fri, 16 Oct 2020 21:47:31 GMT
A former official with the Los Angeles Angels baseball team has been indicted on drug distribution charges in the 2019 fentanyl overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, federal prosecutors said.
A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted Eric Prescott Kay on one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance and one count of distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death and serious bodily injury, according to documents filed with the US District Court in Fort Worth. Kay is a former communications director for the Angels.
The first charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, and the second count 20 years to life, according to the US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas.
Skaggs, 27, died on July 1, 2019, in a hotel in Southlake, Texas, before the team was set to play the Texas Rangers.
The pitcher died by choking on vomit after using drugs and alcohol, according to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office. High levels of opioids, including fentanyl, oxycodone and oxymorphone, were found in his system, as well as alcohol, according to toxicology results.
The indictment said Kay, in June 2019, "did knowingly and intentionally distribute a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl, a Schedule II controlled substance, and the use of said substance resulted in the death and serious bodily injury" of Skaggs.
Kay and others also conspired to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl from about 2017 to July 2019, according to the indictment.
CNN has reached out to Kay's attorney for comment.
"Tyler Skaggs's death, coming as it did in the midst of an ascendant baseball career, should be a wake-up call," US Attorney Erin Nealy Cox said when Kay was charged in August with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl. "It should prove to his many, many fans that no one is immune from the deadly, addictive nature of these drugs, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet."
After his death, a search of Skaggs's phone revealed text messages from the day before his death suggesting that he had asked Kay to stop by his room with pills late that evening, according to court records.
The Drug Enforcement Administration's investigation also found that Kay regularly dealt pills of fentanyl -- dubbed "blue boys" for their blue coloring -- to Skaggs and others in the Angels organization at the stadium where they worked, according to an affidavit in support of the criminal complaint.
Geoffrey Lindenberg, a DEA special agent, wrote that "but for the fentanyl" in Skaggs's system, the medical examiner determined, the pitcher "would not have died."
Kay's attorney, Michael Molfetta, confirmed to CNN last year that the former team spokesman was cooperating with the DEA.
Molfetta also told CNN that Kay was also struggling with his own sobriety then.
"He's dealing with his own demons. He's going to be blamed for this. He doesn't feel good about that for obvious reasons," Molfetta said.
The Angels have said the organization worked with law enforcement and hired an independent investigator to look into Skaggs's death.
"We learned that there was unacceptable behavior inconsistent with our code of conduct, and we took steps to address it," the team said in a statement in August. "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."