Yasiel Puig to plead guilty to lying in illegal sports gambling case

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Yasiel Puig to plead guilty to lying in illegal sports gambling case

Yasiel Puig  [YONHAP]

Yasiel Puig [YONHAP]

Yasiel Puig, who played the 2022 season with the Kiwoom Heroes in the KBO, has agreed to plead guilty to lying to federal law enforcement officials about betting on sports.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday that Puig has agreed to plead guilty “for lying to federal law enforcement officials about bets on sporting events that he placed with an illegal gambling operation.”
The DOJ document lists Puig as currently playing professional baseball in Korea, although his one-year contract with the Heroes actually ended at the end of the 2022 KBO season.
According to the plea agreement, Puig admits to placing bets through a third party who worked for an illegal gambling business run by Wayne Nix.
"When given the opportunity to be truthful about his involvement with Nix's gambling businesses, Mr. Puig chose not to,” IRS Criminal Investigation Los Angeles Field Office Special Agent in Charge Tyler Hatcher was quoted as saying in the DOJ press release. "Mr. Puig's lies hindered the legal and procedural tasks of the investigators and prosecutors."
According to the DOJ, Puig accumulated $282,900 in losses through websites owned by Nix. He paid back $200,000 and then placed another 899 bets on tennis, football and basketball games.
There is no indication that Puig bet on baseball games.
Nix was charged in March this year with one count of conspiring to operate an illegal sports gambling business. Puig was interviewed by U.S. federal investigators as part of that investigation and his statement was later found to be false.
“In January 2022, federal investigators interviewed Puig in the presence of his lawyer,” the DOJ statement said. “During the interview, he falsely stated that he only knew (the third party) from baseball and that he never discussed gambling with him, when in fact Puig discussed sports betting with (the third party) hundreds of times on the telephone and via text message.”
Puig played the 2022 season in the KBO with the Heroes. The Seoul squad finished in second place in the KBO after moving up from third during the playoffs. They lost the Korean Series to the SSG Landers last week.
All foreign players in Korea play on one-year contracts that have to be renegotiated during the offseason. The Heroes have not announced a new deal with Puig yet this year.
Before coming to Korea, Puig played for the Los Angeles Dodgers for six years and made the All-Star team in 2014. He has not played in the MLB since 2019.

BY JIM BULLEY [jim.bulley@joongang.co.kr]
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