- T.J. Quinn joined ESPN in November 2007 as an investigative reporter for ESPN’s Enterprise Unit, which is charged with developing long-form, investigative features to be presented across multiple platforms.
Federal prosecutors revealed some of their evidence against former Los Angeles Angels communications director Eric Kay in court documents filed Friday, alleging he asked drug suppliers to deliver opioids to Angel Stadium and offered team memorabilia and tickets as incentive.
Kay faces felony distribution charges in connection to the drug-related death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs on July 1, 2019.
Friday’s filing alleges that Kay was communicating with oxycodone suppliers through the online marketplace app “OfferUp” in the spring of 2019, including while he was in treatment for opioid addiction. In one exchange, alleged to have taken place in June of that year, Kay wrote, “Any chance u can get to Angel Stadium? Where I work. Could leave u tickets for the game if u wanted.” Followed by, “My Bad. That… Sounds weird. Ha. I just can’t leave work tonight.”
In another exchange, Kay allegedly wrote to someone identified as “Sharky”: “U have a son? Could hook him with a signed (Mike) Trout ball for a trade if U want?” Sharky responded, “We dodger fans my boi lol.”
Kay has told federal agents he repeatedly provided oxycodone to Skaggs, who was found dead in his Southlake, Texas, hotel room after asphyxiating on his vomit. An autopsy found he had ingested oxycodone, fentanyl and grain alcohol, and the death was ruled accidental.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in the Northern District in Texas charged Kay with distributing a controlled substance that resulted in Skaggs’ death. Prosecutors have said that without the fentanyl, a potentially fatal synthetic opioid sometimes found in counterfeit drugs, Skaggs would not have died. Prosecutors have not said when or how that determination was made.
As ESPN reported in 2019 after Skaggs’ death, Kay told DEA agents that he had an arrangement with Skaggs in which Kay would obtain drugs for the pitcher and himself, and Skaggs would pay for them. In Kay’s telling, he was just doing Skaggs’ bidding in order to feed both the player’s addiction as well as his own. ESPN also reported at the time that Kay told agents he believed five other unnamed Angels players had used opioids. In Friday’s filing, the government argues that Kay ran a distribution ring within the team, dealing to five players.
The filing was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.
The filing in the case against Kay, who is scheduled for an October trial in Texas, also offer a first public glimpse into the defense team’s strategy. One government motion seeks to prevent Kay’s attorneys from presenting evidence that the medical examiner who conducted the autopsy on Skaggs’ body, Marc Krouse, made mistakes in other autopsy reports. Krouse was fired earlier this year after an audit showed issues in dozens of cases. But the government argues that only two of the mistakes Krouse was found to have made were material to its cases, and that no mistakes were found in Skaggs’ autopsy.
Another part of the motion alleges for the first time publicly that Kay was with Skaggs in his room the entire night in question, and didn’t return to his own room until 8:25 a.m. on July 1. Based on Friday’s motion, the defense is expected to argue that Kay had propped his door open and didn’t need to use his key to return to his room earlier that night. The government wants to prevent Kay’s attorneys from raising that point about his door unless Kay himself testifies to it, which would allow prosecutors to cross-examine him.
Prosecutors also said in a court filing that investigators found traces of opioids with fentanyl in Kay’s desk at Angel Stadium in December 2019, five months after Skaggs died.
Kay’s attorney, Michael Molfetta, would not address specifics in the filing when reached Monday, saying he has been abiding by a gag order in the case while adding that he was upset that the documents were public.
“My understanding is things are supposed to be filed under seal,” he said. “It’s unfortunate to me that the rules aren’t being applied equally and we’ve adhered to them and we will go to court and we will litigate things there. We are not going to trial to get our teeth kicked in. We feel we have a very compelling narrative that is supported by facts.”
Prosecutors couldn’t be reached for comment after business hours Monday.
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