Eric Kay, a former Angels employee who worked in their media relations department for more than 20 years, has been hit with federal charges in Texas for distributing the drug fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times reports. The charges are related to the overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who died last year at the age of 27.
Skaggs was found dead at the team hotel in Texas on July 1, 2019. A toxicology report said a mixture of "alcohol, fentanyl and oxycodone" was found in his system, and listed his cause of death as "terminal aspiration of gastric contents," meaning he choked on his own vomit. Soon after his death, the Skaggs family released a statement that in part claimed a team employee had played a role in Skaggs' use of opioids. In October of last year, ESPN's T.J. Quinn reported that Kay had told U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration investigators that he provided Skaggs with drugs and used them with the pitcher for multiple years. Twice in 2019, Kay sought treatment for substance abuse.
Here's more from Fenno:
On Friday, the Angels released a statement following news of the charges against Kay:
"It has been more than a year since the tragic passing of Tyler Skaggs, and all of us affected by this loss continue to grieve. The circumstances surrounding his death are a tragedy that has impacted countless individuals and families.
"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."
Following Skaggs' death, MLB and the Players Association agreed in December of 2019 to begin testing for opioids and cocaine as part of the joint drug treatment program.