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Ex-Dodger Yasiel Puig expected to plead guilty in sports gambling case

The former MLB outfielder lied to federal investigators about placing bets and knowing people involved in the gaming operation, prosecutors said.
World Series - Boston Red Sox v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Three
Yasiel Puig with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2018.Rob Tringali / MLB via Getty Images file

LOS ANGELES — Former Los Angeles Dodgers player Yasiel Puig will plead guilty to lying to federal investigators who were probing an illegal sports gambling operation, prosecutors in Southern California said Monday.

Puig, 31, will plead guilty to one count of making false statements, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a statement.

That charge carries up to five years in prison, but sentencing guidelines cited in plea agreement documents suggest a sentence of far less than that. Puig will also pay a fine of at least $55,000, the prosecutors’ office said.

Puig was charged and a plea agreement was filed Aug. 29, but the case was unsealed Monday, according to court records. He is due in court Tuesday.

Neither the statement from federal prosecutors’ office nor court documents say that Puig gambled on baseball.

An attorney for Puig did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday night.

The criminal case involved a sports betting operation run by Wayne Nix, who officials said pleaded guilty in April.

In a January interview, Puig lied and said he never discussed sports betting with a person working for Nix's operation, when that person had helped Puig place bets, according to court documents.

Puig also falsely said he placed bets through a website, and Puig said he did not know the people involved when Puig paid off $200,000 in gambling debts he’d accrued, when he did know them, the documents say.

The sports mentioned by prosecutors were tennis, football and basketball games.

Puig played in the outfield for the Dodgers from 2013 through the 2018 season. In December of 2018 he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 2019, and now plays baseball in South Korea, for the Kiwoom Heroes.

Nix, of Newport Coast in Orange County, California, pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to operate an illegal sports gambling business and of filing a false tax return. Sentencing is scheduled for March, the Justice Department said.

Sports betting is illegal in California. While the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 struck down a law that had banned it in most of the country, states must legalize it.

Two ballot propositions that would have brought sports wagering to California, one centered on Native American casinos and the other on online wagering, were defeated in the Nov. 8 election.