A Texas grand jury has been hearing evidence that could form the basis for criminal charges related to the death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday, quoting two people familiar with the matter.
Erin Dooley, a spokeswoman for the United States attorney’s office for the Northern District of Texas, told The Times via email: “I’ afraid I don’ have anything on the Skaggs matter for you at the moment.”
Laurie Levenson, a Loyola Law School professor and former federal prosecutor, called the involvement of a grand jury “significant.”
“It means there’ at least some concern about how widespread this incident might be by those who provided drugs, were involved in the activities, knew about them, may have made misrepresentations, whatever the connection might be.”
Skaggs was 27 when he died in his Texas hotel room July 1, hours after the Angels arrived on a flight from California. An autopsy revealed that Skaggs aspirated, with a mixture of fentanyl, oxycodone and alcohol in his system.
In October, The Times reported that at least six players with the Angels at the time of Skaggs’ death had been interviewed by agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Eric Kay, the Angels’ director of communications at the time of Skaggs’ death, told agents he illegally obtained six oxycodone pills and gave three to Skaggs several days before the team left California for Texas, ESPN reported in October. Kay said he had previously provided oxycodone to Skaggs and had abused it with him for years. The Times reviewed a series of Venmo payments between Skaggs and Kay that ended last April and did not specify the purpose of the payments.
Kay no longer works for the Angels. His mother told ESPN in October that he was enrolled in a substance abuse program and that he had battled opioid abuse for years. He retained an attorney and agreed to cooperate with authorities out of concern that he would be made a “scapegoat” for Skaggs’ death.
As of Monday, Kay has not been called to testify before the grand jury, according to two people familiar with the proceedings.
Kay also told investigators that two team officials — Tim Mead, then the vice president of communications, and Tom Taylor, the traveling secretary — were aware of Skaggs’ drug use. Mead, now the president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and Taylor denied any such knowledge.