A hearing scheduled Wednesday in which former Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was expected to plead guilty to lying to federal officials about bets on sporting events that he placed with an illegal gambling operation has been delayed until Tuesday.
Puig, who now plays in South Korea, has agreed to enter his plea to one federal count of making false statements — a crime that carries a sentence of up to five years behind bars, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
As part of his plea deal, Puig will pay a fine of at least $55,000.
A sentencing date will be scheduled following his plea Tuesday in L.A. federal court.
“Under our system of justice, no one is above the law,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in a recent statement. “The integrity of our nation’s criminal justice system depends on people telling the truth, and those who fail to abide by this simple principle must face consequences.”
According to his plea agreement, Puig — who also played for the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians — began placing bets on games in May 2019 through an unidentified man who worked on behalf of an illegal gambling business run by Wayne Nix, 46, a former minor league pitcher who lives in Newport Coast.
Within a month, Puig’s losses reached $282,900, the plea agreement states.
In January 2022, federal investigators interviewed Puig in the presence of his lawyer. During the interview, despite being warned that lying to federal agents is a crime, Puig lied several times, including when he said that he never discussed gambling with the bookie, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In fact, Puig discussed sports betting with the man hundreds of times on the telephone and via text message, federal prosecutors said.
Nix pleaded guilty in April to one count each of conspiracy to operate an illegal sports gambling business and filing a false tax return. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 8.
Federal prosecutors have also filed a plea agreement for former MLB player Erik Kristian Hiljus, 49, of Panorama City, who agreed to plead guilty to two counts of subscribing to false tax returns and will face up to six years in federal prison upon entering his guilty plea. Hiljus was an agent for Nix’s illegal gambling business but did not work with Puig.