Who is Eric Kay? Ex-Angels staffer found GUILTY of providing drugs that killed Tyler Skaggs
Tyler Skaggs, who was 27 at the time of his death, was found dead on July 1, 2019, in his hotel room near Dallas
An ex-employee of the Los Angeles Angels was convicted in connection with the 2019 overdose death of Angles pitcher Tyler Skaggs, announced US Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad Meacham. On Thursday, February 17, Kay was found guilty on charges he provided the drugs that killed Skaggs. He was also found guilty by the Texas jury on one count of drug distribution resulting in death and one count of drug conspiracy. He now faces between 20 years and life in federal prison. His sentencing has been set for June 28, 2022.
Skaggs, who was 27 at the time of his death, was found dead on July 1, 2019, in his hotel room near Dallas, just two days after his last performance for the Angels. He had reportedly choked to death on his own vomit, before the beginning of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. A coroner’s report found a toxic mix of alcohol, fentanyl, and oxycodone in Skaggs' system. So how did Eric Kay come into the picture?
Who is Eric Kay?
Former Angels Communications Director Eric Prescott Kay served as the team's public relations contact on many road trips. The trip to Texas was his first since Kay returned from rehab. Shortly after Skaggs' death, Kay was placed on leave. He never returned to the trip. He reportedly lied to police the day Skaggs was found dead and said that he had not seen the pitcher the previous night. Kay denied knowing whether Skaggs was a drug user. He claimed the last time he’d seen Skaggs was at hotel check-in on June 30. However, a search of Skaggs’s phone revealed text messages from June 30 suggesting that he had asked Kay to stop by his room with pills late that evening. Investigators later learned that, contrary to what he’d told law enforcement the day Skaggs’s body was discovered, Kay had admitted to a colleague that he had, in fact, visited Skaggs’s room the night of his death.
Drug Enforcement Administration determined during the investigation that Kay allegedly regularly dealt the blue M/30 pills – dubbed “blue boys”. He provided these to Skaggs and others, distributing the pills at the stadium where they all worked.
Kay was found guilty after less than three hours of deliberation. Kay was reportedly seen nodding towards his family and friends who were present in the courtroom as he was placed in handcuffs after removing his jacket and tie. Skaggs’ widow and mother hugged after the announcement of the verdict.
Testimony from five major league baseball pitchers was involved in the trial that took place in the Northern District of Texas, namely Matt Harvey, CJ Cron, Mike Morin, and Cameron Bedrosian. All of them claimed that they had received oxycodone from Kay while they were part of the Angels’ bullpen. They further testified that he was the only source of these pills and would conduct transactions in the Angels Stadium. Former Mets pitcher and All-Star Harvey even acknowledged receiving oxycodone pills from Kay and also admitted to having used cocaine while he was with the Mets. Harvey reportedly testified because he had been granted immunity from prosecution.
Former Angels’ pitchers Bedrosian and Blake Parker also testified and said that they stopped using oxycodone after Skaggs' death. “All of those people were one pill away from dying alone in a hotel room from a drug that Eric Kay gave them,” lead prosecutor Lindsey Beran said in her closing argument. Kay's attorney Reagan Wynn said that the trial disappointed him. “We thought there were many reasons to doubt the government’s case,” he said. “This is a tragedy all the way around. Eric Kay is getting ready to do, minimum, 20 years in a federal penitentiary and it goes up from there. And Tyler Skaggs is gone.”
Skaggs’ family said the verdict finally relieved them. “Tyler was the light of our family,” the statement said in a statement to Los Angeles Times. “He is gone, and nothing can ever bring him back. We are relieved that justice was served, although today is a painful reminder of the worst day in the life of our family.”
“On behalf of the entire Angels organization, we are saddened by the devastating heartache that surrounds this tragedy, especially for the Skaggs family. Our compassion goes out to all families and individuals that have been impacted. The players’ testimony was incredibly difficult for our organization to hear, and it is a reminder that too often drug use and addiction are hidden away. From the moment we learned of Tyler’s death, our focus has been to fully understand the circumstances that led to this tragedy," Angels President John Carpino said in a statement. "“We are thankful that Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have taken the important step to update their drug policies for players using opioids so that they can receive help.”