A former Major League Baseball player has pled guilty to a number of federal charges related to betting and gambling offenses on sporting events that were prohibited under the player’s contract, the Department of Justice announced in a press statement. The player has placed wagers with an illegal gambling operator and has thus violated existing gambling rules applying to official league representatives, staffers, and players.
Not Making Clean Breast of It When There Was Chance
Yasiel Puig Valdés, 31, plays baseball in South Korea presently, and he used to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers and other MLB franchises in the past. Valdés has agreed to pay a fine that is yet to be determined but is expected to be no smaller than $55,000. The offenses he has admitted include giving false statements to law enforcement. The one count he’s charged with carries a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison.
He’s appearing in court today. Meanwhile, US attorney Martin Estrada said that nobody was above the law. IRS Criminal Investigation Los Angeles Field Office special agent Tyler Hatcher reminded that Valdés had had the opportunity to come clean, but he gave false statements.
“Lying to federal agents is a serious offense,” HSI Los Angeles acting special agent Eddy Wang said, as one of the multiple parties involved in the investigation. Valdés offenses go back to 2019 when he started placing bets with an illegal gambling business run by one Wayne Joseph Nix of Newport Coast.
The Whole Thing Comes Undone
Valdés used a middleman known in court documentation as Agent 1 who has most likely agreed to testify for a reduced sentence. Valdés would reach out to Agent 1 and place bets. At one point, Valdés owed Nix $282,900 in sports gambling losses.
Repaying the debt, though, triggered customary checks which led to the gambling ring. Valdés was interviewed by authorities and told that lying would be considered a serious offense, but he did it anyway. At the time, the player said that he only knew the individual referred to as Agent 1 from baseball and had no knowledge of the said individual being involved with illegal gambling as such.
Meanwhile, the owner of the gambling ring, Nix, pled guilty to running and operating an illegal sports gambling business and filing a false tax return. He is due to be sentenced on March 8, 2023.