Ex-Dodger Yasiel Puig set to plead guilty in sports betting case

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LOS ANGELES — Former Los Angeles Dodgers player Yasiel Puig will plead guilty to lying to federal investigators investigating an illegal sports betting operation, Southern California prosecutors announced Monday.

Puig, 31, will plead guilty to one count of misrepresentation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a statement.

That charge carries a possible five years in prison, but sentencing guidelines cited in the plea agreement papers suggest a much lower sentence than that. Puig will also pay a fine of at least $55,000, the prosecutor’s office said.

Puig was charged and a plea agreement was filed on August 29, but the case was unsealed on Monday, court records show. He is due to appear in court on Tuesday.

Neither the statement from the federal prosecutor’s office nor the court documents say Puig played baseball.

A lawyer for Puig did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday evening.

The criminal case involved a sports betting operation run by Wayne Nix, who officials said pleaded guilty in April.

In a January interview, Puig lied and said he never discussed sports betting with anyone working for Nix’s operation, when that person helped Puig place bets, court documents show. .

Puig also incorrectly said he placed bets through a website, and Puig said he did not know the people involved when Puig paid off $200,000 in gambling debts he had accrued, while he knew them, according to the documents.

The sports mentioned by prosecutors were tennis, football and basketball.

Puig played in the Dodgers’ outfield from 2013 through the 2018 season. In December 2018, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 2019, and now plays baseball in South Korea, for the Kiwoom Heroes.

Nix, of Newport Coast in Orange County, Calif., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to operate an illegal sports betting business and filing a false tax return. Sentencing is scheduled for March, the Justice Department said.

Sports betting is illegal in California. While the United States Supreme Court in 2018 struck down a law that prohibited him in most of the country, states must legalize it.

Two ballot proposals that would have brought sports betting to California, one centered on Native American casinos and the other on online betting, were defeated in the November 8 elections.

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