On Tuesday, four major league players testified that they received oxycodone pills from a former Los Angeles Angels employee accused of supplying pitcher Tyler Skaggs with drugs that led to the pitcher’s overdose death.
Pitchers Matt Harvey, Mike Morin, and Cam Bedrosian, as well as first baseman CJ Krohn, played for the Angels during the years that federal prosecutors say Eric Prescott Kay was acquiring drugs for players. Kay is charged with drug dealing and conspiracy charges.
Saying he was subpoenaed and would exercise his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent without immunity, Harvey admitted to using cocaine before and during his 2019 season with the Angels. The former New York Mets star said he tried oxycodone provided by Skaggs during his season with the Angels and also supplied Skaggs with drugs.
Pitchers Matt Harvey (left), Mike Morin and Cam Bedrosian, and first baseman CJ Krohn played for the Angels during the years that federal prosecutors say Eric Prescott Kay (right) was acquiring drugs for players. Kay faces charges of drug dealing and conspiracy
Tyler Skaggs, 27, (pictured) was found dead on July 1, 2019 in a hotel room in suburban Dallas after the team arrived from Los Angeles and before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game game against the Texas Rangers. The coroner’s report states that Skaggs choked to death on his vomit and had a toxic mixture of alcohol, fentanyl and oxycodone in his system.
Maureen and Kron testified to longer periods of getting oxycodone from Kay, while Bedrosyan said he got three or four pills once and returned the rest after he took one and didn’t like how it felt.
Of the four players, only Krohn is in the major leagues (Colorado Rockies). The rest are free agents; Harvey, who played for the Orioles last year, said he believes his testimony would threaten his career.
Skaggs, 27, was found dead on July 1, 2019 in a suburban Dallas hotel room after the team arrived from Los Angeles and before the start of what was to be a four-game game against the Texas Rangers. The coroner’s report states that Skaggs choked on his vomit and had a toxic mixture of alcohol, fentanyl and oxycodone in his system.
Kay has been the PR team’s contact on many trips, and the trip to Texas was his first since returning from rehab. Kay was placed on leave shortly after Skaggs’ death and never returned to the team.
Maureen (right) and Krohn (left) testified to longer periods of receiving oxycodone from Kay.
Cam Bedrosian said he once received three or four pills and Kay returned the rest.
Federal prosecutors are trying to establish that Kay was the only one who could have provided the drugs that led to Skaggs’ death, and that the drugs were delivered after the team arrived in Texas. The defense believes that Skaggs had multiple suppliers and that the last drugs Kay gave him were before the team left.
Harvey said that Skaggs had a different source, but he didn’t get a lot of drugs from it. Harvey said he had his own drug supplier on the East Coast and said he got Skaggs’ oxycodone from that supplier.
The defense asked Harvey and Maureen if they were aware of the dangers of mixing alcohol and oxycodone, and they said they did. Defense attorney Michael Molfetta asked Harvey if he ever asked Skaggs to be careful.
“Looking back, I wish I had done it,” Harvey said. “In baseball, you do everything you can to stay on the field. I felt like a teammate at the time, I just helped him get through whatever he had to go through.”
Testimony continued later Tuesday, the fifth full day of testimony in Kay’s trial.
Members of the Los Angeles Angels display their number 45 jerseys in honor of pitcher Tyler Skaggs on the mound after a combined no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners during a baseball game, July 12, 2019.
Skaggs’ mother Debbie Hetman revealed last week that her son had been addicted to opioids for years.
As Hetman told the court, Skaggs struggled with addiction to Percocet before undergoing elbow surgery in 2014. She said that Skaggs and his stepfather Daniel Ramos often talked about his addiction, according to numerous reports.
According to Hetman, Skaggs turned down Percocet, adding that he was only given a high dose of Tylenol as he recovered from the 2014 procedure.
“I knew my son loved life,” Hetman said tearfully, according to The Athletic. He didn’t know there was poison in those pills.
“He was just a wonderful child. He was a wonderful son.
On Wednesday, Kay’s lawyers argued that their client could only have given Skaggs the drugs in California, which is important because the prosecution must prove the alleged distribution took place in Texas in order to secure a conviction.
Kay’s lead lawyer said his client did not drug Skaggs that night, and there is no way to know if the fentanyl Kay is accused of providing was the cause of Skaggs’ death in Texas.
Defense attorney Reagan Wynn told jurors that on June 30, 2019, Kay entered Skaggs’ hotel room in suburban Dallas and found the jar sitting at a table with rows of powdered substances in front of him. Wynn said that Skaggs told Kay that Kay did not recognize the drug, which he shared with Matt Harvey, who played for the Angels that season.
Kay faces charges of drug dealing and drug conspiracy in connection with Skaggs’ death. The trial is expected to last about a week.
Carly Skaggs (left), Tyler Skaggs’ wife and his mother Debbie Hetman (right) are shown with Angels pitcher photos on Sunday, June 28, 2020. Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room on July 1, 2019 in Southlake, Texas. shortly before the af series against the Texas Rangers. On Wednesday, Hetman spoke at the drug trafficking and conspiracy trial of former Angels communications director Eric Prescott Kay, who is accused of giving a jar a fatal supply of fentanyl-laced counterfeit oxycodone.
Chief Attorney Lindsey Beran told the jury that the evidence would show that Kay was the only person who could have provided the drugs that led to Skaggs’ death, and described him as someone who cares more about his own defense than the well-being of Skaggs’ family.
“Only one person came into Tyler Skaggs’ hotel room and lied about it to the police,” Beran said.
Kay was the director of public relations for the Angels and he served as their public relations contact on many trips. Shortly after Skaggs’ death, he was placed on leave and never returned to the team.
Wynn admitted to the jury that Kay had lied to the police. According to Wynn, Kay was on his first trip after being away from the team for about a month to treat an oxycodone addiction. Kay is accused of acquiring drugs for himself, Skaggs, and others.
Andrew Heaney, teammate and close friend of Skaggs during his five seasons with the Angels, was the first witness.
Heaney detailed his attempts to contact Skaggs the day he was found dead and his growing concern that calls and messages went unanswered. He said the two were close, but he was unaware of Skaggs’ dealings with Kay. Heaney was traded to the New York Yankees last season and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in November.
Los Angeles Angels fan Pete Soto adds a makeshift memorial to Skaggs in Anaheim.
Beran said that Kay and Skaggs did not have a close relationship outside of the team, but Wynn disputed this, saying, “They definitely had a relationship, a relationship that they definitely tried to keep under wraps.”
Wynn said that Kay’s addiction to painkillers started years ago, and that Kay first met Skaggs during spring training in 2014 when Kay was looking for ways to get the pills. Wynn said that Skaggs told Kay in 2014, “You’ve come to the right guy” and invited him to where he was staying in Arizona that night.
After Skaggs missed all of 2015 following elbow surgery, Wynn said they “picked up where they left off” during spring 2016 training.
Beran detailed the timeline that the prosecution believed prevented Kay from delivering oxydocone pills during or after the home game prior to the team’s June 30 departure for Texas, meaning the drugs had to be delivered after the team’s arrival. Wynn said Kay delivered two pills before the team left.
The prosecution alleges that Kay gave Skaggs counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl. Beran said that Kay often asked suppliers about pills containing fentanyl, showing that he was aware of the drug’s dangers.