Eric Kay found guilty of providing drugs that led to Tyler Skaggs' death

February 17th, 2022

A Texas jury on Thursday found former Angels communications director Eric Kay guilty of providing Angels left-hander Tyler Skaggs with the drugs that led to his death in 2019.

Kay, 47, was found guilty by the 12-person jury on two counts: the distribution of controlled substances resulting in death and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances. Sentencing for Kay is scheduled for June 28. He faces a minimum 20-year sentence and a $1 million fine.

Skaggs died in his hotel room in Dallas on July 1, 2019, at age 27. An autopsy report found he had fentanyl, oxycodone and alcohol in his system.

MLB and the MLB Players Association made changes to the joint drug program shortly after Skaggs’ death. Players are tested for drugs of abuse such as opioids, fentanyl, cocaine and synthetic marijuana. Anyone who tests positive receives an initial evaluation and, if appropriate, a personalized treatment plan. Players also are required to undergo educational programs on the dangers of opioids.

“On behalf of the entire Angels organization, we are saddened by the devastating heartache that surrounds this tragedy, especially for the Skaggs family,” the Angels said in a statement released after the verdict. “Our compassion goes out to all families and individuals that have been impacted. The players' testimony was incredibly difficult for our organization to hear, and it is a reminder that too often drug use and addiction are hidden away.

“From the moment we learned of Tyler's death, our focus has been to fully understand the circumstances that led to this tragedy. We are thankful that Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have taken the important step to update their drug policies for players using opioids so that they can receive help."

Kay, who worked with the Angels from 1996-2019, met Skaggs in 2017. Evidence and testimony from the trial showed he provided oxycodone to Skaggs and at least four other players.

The Angels flew from Long Beach, Calif., to Texas on June 30, 2019. Evidence showed that Skaggs had asked Kay for pills before the flight. Kay also was in Skaggs’ hotel room the night he died.

The jury came to the conclusion, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Kay distributed drugs to Skaggs. They also concluded that the drugs were "more likely than not" given to Skaggs in Texas. After a short deliberation, Kay was found guilty on both counts.

"We are very grateful to the government and the jury for seeing this important case through to the right verdict,” the Skaggs family said in a statement. “Tyler was the light of our family. He is gone, and nothing can ever bring him back. We are relieved that justice was served, although today is a painful reminder of the worst day in the life of our family."