Former Angels public relations director Eric Kay surrendered to federal authorities in Texas Friday on a drug-distribution charge stemming from the overdose death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs.
Kay, 45, was charged with conspiracy to distribute a mixture containing detectable amounts of fentanyl, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Dallas. Kay was taken into custody in Forth Worth, Texas, and made his initial appearance before a federal judge Friday morning.
The complaint was filed July 30 and unsealed Friday upon Kay’s arrest.
Skaggs, 27, was found dead in his hotel room at the Southlake Town Square Hilton on July 1 of last year. The Angels were staying at the hotel while in town to play the Texas Rangers.
Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Geoffrey Lindenberg wrote in court papers that Kay and others conspired to distribute fentanyl beginning in 2017.
Southlake police received a 911 call on July 1, 2019, when Skaggs’ body was found in room 469 of the hotel, Lindenberg said. Skaggs died from a mix of “ethanol, fentanyl and oxycodone intoxication with terminal aspiration of gastric content,” according to Lindenberg.
“It was later determined that but for the fentanyl in (Skaggs’) system, (he) would not have died,” Lindenberg wrote.
Police recovered “several pills” appearing to be prescription drugs and a cell phone in the room. The pills were later determined to be fentanyl, the agent said. Blue pills found in the room were counterfeit, he added. Five pink pills found were legitimately manufactured, he said, and they did not contain fentanyl but were marked as oxycodone.
Kay was not the source of the pink pills, Lindenberg said.
Court documents detail a text-message exchange between Kay and Skaggs:
Kay: “Hoe (sic) many?”
Skaggs: “Just a few like 5”
Skaggs: “Don’t need many.”
“During the course of the investigation, I learned that (Skaggs) and Kay had a history of narcotic transactions, including several exchanges wherein Kay acquired oxycodone pills for (Skaggs) and others from Kay’s source(s) in the days leading up to and surrounding (Skaggs’) overdose death,” Lindenberg wrote in the affidavit.
“During the course of this investigation, I learned that several individuals who were associated with Kay and (Skaggs) knew that Kay provided pills to (Skaggs),” Lindenberg wrote. “These individuals confirmed that Kay would provide 30 milligram oxycodone pills to (Skaggs) and that at times, Kay, (Skaggs) and others would refer to these pills as `blues’ or `blue boys’ because they were blue in color. I also learned that Kay would distribute these pills to (Skaggs) and others in their place of employment and while they were working.”
According to Lindenberg’s affidavit, Kay initially denied knowledge of Skaggs’ drug use, saying he was unsure if the pitcher used any narcotics except possibly marijuana.
Kay surrendered to authorities in Texas. His attorney, Michael Molfetta, issued a statement saying what happened to his client was a “tragedy.”
Molfetta said, “Now he will patiently wait for his opportunity to make his story known,” and that his client would “wait for the appropriate time to address the allegation.”
He decried “those who have elected to leak information and publicize documents,” adding, “It serves to undermine the basic tenet of our system of justice, the dispassionate ascertainment of the truth.”
He said, “The courtroom is the best and only place to litigate this matter. Our defense team is working diligently to bring the truth to light, and we thank you for your anticipated patience going forward.”
The Angels released a statement following Kay’s arrest, saying the teams continues to grieve Skaggs’ death.
“The circumstances surrounding his death are a tragedy that has impacted countless individuals and families,” according to the team. “The Angels organization has fully cooperated with law enforcement and Major League Baseball. Additionally, in order to comprehensively understand the circumstances that led to his death, we hired a former federal prosecutor to conduct an independent investigation.
“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.
“As we try to heal from the loss of Tyler, we continue to work with authorities as they complete their investigation.”
Kay could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.