Former Los Angeles Angels Staffer Eric Kay Found Guilty for His Role in the Death of Tyler Skaggs

With the verdict, former MLB employee Kay potentially faces decades behind bars

Tyler Skaggs #45 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim delivers a pitch in the first inning during a MLB game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on June 18, 2019
Tyler Skaggs. Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Getty

Eric Kay, former Los Angeles Angels communications director, has been convicted on two drug charges related to the 2019 overdose death of Tyler Skaggs.

A jury in Fort Worth, Texas, found Kay guilty of providing Skaggs — then a pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels — with fentanyl, which led to his death at age 27 in a Dallas-area hotel room in July 2019, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad Meacham announced on Thursday.

"According to evidence presented at trial, Mr. Kay distributed the pills that killed Mr. Skaggs," a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office read.

Deliberation took less than an hour and a half before a verdict was reached.

The charges — conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance resulting in death and serious bodily injury — could mean Kay, 47, might face decades in prison, the New York Times reports.

For more on the trial surrounding Tyler Skagg's death, listen below to our daily podcast on PEOPLE Every Day.

The former Angels communications director's sentencing is set for June 28 of this year, with the Northern Texas Attorney's release adding that he will face a minimum of 20 years to life behind bars.

"I'm in shock," Eric's mother, Sandy Kay, said shortly after the verdict was read, per the Times.

RELATED VIDEO: TobyMac's Son Truett McKeehan Died of an Accidental Overdose of 2 Substances, Rep Confirms

"The trial showed Eric Kay's drug trafficking was known to numerous people in the Angels organization, and it resulted in the tragic and unnecessary death of one of their most popular players," Skaggs family attorney Rusty Hardin said, per the Los Angeles Times.

He also said civil suits against the Angels and Kay would proceed.

"We have no doubt that the Angels knew what Eric Kay was doing, and the team is morally and legally responsible for his conduct," Hardin said, per the New York Times. "In the upcoming civil cases, we are looking forward to holding the team accountable. While this verdict is the beginning of seeing justice served, it is a painful reminder of a very sad day in the life of Tyler's family."

Eric Kay
Eric Kay. Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

"It is obviously a bad day for the Angels, who have given a black eye to our National Pastime," he added.

"Tyler was the light of our family. He is gone, and nothing can ever bring him back," Skaggs' family said, as reported by CNN. "We are relieved that justice was served, although today is a painful reminder of the worst day in the life of our family."

The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas' release also said that during court proceedings, several former Angels players including Matt Harvey, C.J. Cron, Mike Morin, and Cameron Bedrosian all testified that Kay had distributed pills to them as well.

"They further testified that he was the only source of these pills and would conduct transactions in the Angels Stadium," the news release stated.

"This case is a sobering reminder: Fentanyl kills. Anyone who deals fentanyl — whether on the streets or out of a world-famous baseball stadium — puts his or her buyers at risk," said U.S. Attorney Meacham, per the release. "No one is immune from this deadly drug. A beloved pitcher, Tyler Skaggs was struck down in the midst of an ascendant career. The Justice Department is proud to hold his dealer accountable for his family and friends' unimaginable loss."

"Unfortunately, this guilty verdict will not bring Mr. Skaggs back or take away the suffering his family and friends have endured since 2019. What it does do; however, is affirm that justice prevails and drug dealers and enablers, like Mr. Kay, will be held accountable for their reckless actions," said Eduardo A. Chávez, Special Agent in Charge of DEA Fort Worth, also per the release.

Added Chávez: "DEA will continue to aggressively investigate the distribution of diverted and counterfeit prescription drugs in our communities. The memories of those lives lost to drug overdose must not be in vain."

Tyler Skaggs
Tyler Skaggs. Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty

In October of 2020, Kay was indicted on drug charges in relation to Skaggs' death.

Kay previously admitted to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration investigators that he provided the pitcher with oxycodone and abused it with him for years.

According to an explosive ESPN report published in 2019, Kay told investigators he gave Skaggs three oxycodone pills a day or two before the Angels left California for Texas for a series against the Rangers. Kay also said he did not believe the pills he gave Skaggs were the same the athlete took the day he died because he usually consumed them immediately.

Skaggs died in July 2019 while in Texas. His cause of death was determined to be a mixture of "alcohol, fentanyl and oxycodone intoxication with terminal aspiration of gastric contents," according to a toxicology report and autopsy from the Tarrant County Medical Examiner previously obtained by PEOPLE.

Related Articles