Former Major League Baseball outfielder Yasiel Puig did not have an attorney present during an interview with federal agents investigating an illegal gambling operation, his agent said in a statement released on Tuesday.
The agent went on to note that Puig did not have a criminal attorney present because he felt compromised due to his mental health issues.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the 31-year-old is expected to plead guilty to lying at that interview.
“The government’s indictment arises out of a single interview he gave back in January via Zoom,” said Puig’s agent, Lisette Carnet of Leona Sports Agency.
Court documents revealed that Puig has agreed to plead guilty to one count of making false statements and pay of fine of no less than $55,000. The Cuban-born baseball player could face up to five years in federal prison.
“He came to the interview feeling rushed, unprepared, without criminal counsel with him, and also lacked his own interpreter. Given his history growing up in authoritarian Cuba, government interviews are triggering and only worsen his ADHD symptoms and other mental health struggles, for which he is in treatment. He would have benefited from this care at the time of the interview,” Carnet said.
Carnet mentioned that Puig’s lawyer, Keri Axel, has also clarified that under the sentencing guidelines, he is eligible for probation.
“Yasiel Puig has not been charged with illegal gambling, was not a member of a gambling ring, nor did he bet on baseball. He has not been indicted for gambling of any kind on any sport whatsoever nor for any involvement with any illegal gambling.
“The absolute ‘only conduct at issue is what he said or did not say during an interview’ conducted by IRS and HSI Officials, as described in a statement released by his attorney. Yasiel Puig was not the target of the government’s investigation; he was asked by the government to be a witness against the gambling organizers and others,” Carnet said.
Puig spent the majority of his big league career with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was named to the All-Star team in 2014.
He went on to play for Cincinnati and Cleveland in 2019 before becoming a free agent. Puig also spent some time playing in the Mexican League. Last year he signed a one-year, $1 million contact with South Korea’s Kiwoom Heroes.
Carnet said Puig’s legal trouble does not prevent him from playing in the major leagues or abroad “per organization regulations.”
In an August plea agreement, Puig acknowledged that in 2019 he created more than $280,000 in losses while wagering on games in various sports through a third party who worked for an illegal gambling operation run by Wayne Nix.
Nix played baseball in the minor league system.
Puig placed around 900 bets through Nix-controlled betting websites and through an associated of Nix, authorities said.
In April, Nix pleaded guilty to conspiracy to operate an illegal sports gambling business and filing a false tax return.
Current and former professional athletes were clients or employees in Nix’s operation, prosecutors said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.