Former Angels Communications Director Eric Prescott Kay faces up to 20 years in prison
By Sam Catanzaro
An ex-employee of the Los Angeles Angels has been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in connection with the 2019 overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, a graduate of Santa Monica High School.
On Friday, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox announced former Angels Communications Director Eric Prescott Kay, 45, was charged via criminal complaint with conspiracy to distribute a mixture containing detectable amounts of fentanyl. He was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas and made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey L. Cureton at the Mahon Federal Courthouse Friday morning.
“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose – coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career – should be a wakeup call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,”Cox said. “Suppressing the spread of fentanyl is a priority for the Department of Justice.”
Skaggs was born in Woodland Hills and grew up in Santa Monica where he graduated from Santa Monica High School in 2009 when the Angels drafted him in the first round.
Skaggs’ mother Debbie spent more than three decades coaching the softball team at SAMOHI to a string of league titles and a pair of Southern California championships.
According to the criminal complaint, filed on July 30 and unsealed Friday, the investigation began on July 1, 2019, when the Southlake Police Department received a 911 call stating that Mr. Skaggs, then just 27 years old, had been found dead in his hotel room at the Southlake Town Square Hilton. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s office later determined that Mr. Skaggs had a mixture of ethanol, fentanyl, and oxycodone in his system at the time of his death; it was later ascertained that but for the fentanyl, Mr. Skaggs would not have died.
Inside Mr. Skaggs’s hotel room, investigators discovered a number of pills, including a single blue pill with the markings M/30. An analysis of the pill – which closely resembled a 30-milligram oxycodone tablet – revealed it had been laced with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opiate.
In an initial interview with law enforcement, Mr. Kay allegedly denied knowing whether Mr. Skaggs was a drug user. He claimed the last time he’d seen Mr. Skaggs was at hotel check-in on June 30. However, a search of Mr. Skaggs’s phone revealed text messages from June 30 suggesting that he had asked Mr. Kay to stop by his room with pills late that evening.
Hotel key card records indicated that Mr. Kay’s room, no. 367, was opened at 11:29 p.m., and Mr. Skaggs’s room, no. 469, was opened nine minutes later, at 11:38 p.m., according to prosecutors.
Investigators later learned that, contrary to what he’d told law enforcement the day Mr. Skaggs’s body was discovered, Mr. Kay had allegedly admitted to a colleague that he had, in fact, visited Mr. Skaggs’s room the night of his death.
“What happened to Tyler Skaggs is a tragedy; addiction is a debilitating and destructive disease. Today, Eric Kay, traveled to Texas to surrender himself. Now he will patiently wait for his opportunity to make his story known,” said Michael Molfetta, Kay’s attorney.
In the course of their investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration determined that Mr. Kay allegedly regularly dealt the blue M/30 pills – dubbed “blue boys” – to Mr. Skaggs and to others, dolling out the pills at the stadium where they worked.
“Fentanyl does not discriminate in its potential deadly consequences,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Eduardo A. Chávez. “With the prevalence of fentanyl in many of the counterfeit prescription drugs sold on the streets, every pill taken could be your last.”
If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in federal prison.