LOS ANGELES –
Former Major League Baseball quarterback Yasiel Puig will plead guilty to lying to federal agents investigating an illegal gambling operation, the US Justice Department announced Monday.
Court documents unsealed Monday said Yasiel Puig Valdés, 31, agreed to plead guilty to perjury and, after pleading guilty, he could face up to five years in federal prison. He also agreed to pay a fine of at least $55,000.
Puig beat 0.277 with 132 home runs and 415 RBI appearances in seven major seasons, the first six with the Dodgers, where he won the All-Star selection in 2014.
He played for the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians in 2019 before becoming a free agent. He then played in the Mexican League and last year he signed a one-year, $1 million contract with South Korea’s Kiwoom Heroes.
In a plea agreement in August, Puig admitted that in just a few months in 2019, he had lost more than $280,000 betting on tennis, football and basketball games through a third party. three work for an illegal gambling organization run by Wayne Nix. former minor league baseball player.
Puig placed at least 900 bets through betting sites controlled by Nix and through a man who worked for Nix, authorities said.
In his plea agreement, Puig admitted to lying in January to federal investigators looking into the business, denying he bet through the activity.
Nix pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy to operate an illegal sports gambling business and false tax returns. Prosecutors said Nix’s activity went on for two decades and included both current and former professional athletes as customers or employees.
Federal prosecutors also announced Monday that another former MLB player, Erik Kristian Hiljus, 49, of Los Angeles, agreed to plead guilty to two counts of filing false tax returns. They say he’s an agent for Nix operations.
The Hiljus were drafted by the New York Mets in 1991 but made their major league debut in 1999 with the Detroit Tigers. He also played for the Oakland Athletics in 2001 and 2002. He threw 124 in four seasons, winning 8-3 with a 4.72 career ERA.
Hiljus could face up to six years in federal prison upon sentencing.