Pitcher Got Lethal Fentanyl From Team Employee: Charges

Angels' Tyler Skaggs died in his hotel room last year
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 7, 2020 3:32 PM CDT

(Newser) – A former Los Angeles Angels employee has been charged with providing fentanyl to a player who died in his hotel room after taking it last year. Tyler Skaggs, 27, a pitcher, was found dead on a team road trip to Texas. A criminal complaint that includes a conspiracy charge says Eric Kay, who was the team's communications director at the time, supplied the drug to Skaggs, the Wall Street Journal reports. He surrendered to authorities on Friday, according to the Los Angeles Times. An autopsy found the death was an accident, after the player had ingested alcohol, oxycodone, and fentanyl. If Skaggs hadn't had the fentanyl, the complaint filed in Fort Worth says, he'd have survived. Text messages show Skaggs asking Kay to bring pills to his hotel room, per NBC. The complaint accused Kay, who has been arrested, of providing drugs to others, as well.

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The Angels said they commissioned their own investigation, which found "unacceptable behavior inconsistent with our code of conduct." The team's statement said it "confirmed that no one in management was aware, or informed, of any employee providing opioids to any player, nor that Tyler was using opioids." US Attorney Nealy Cox said fighting the spread of fentanyl is a priority for the Justice Department: "Tyler Skaggs's overdose—coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career—should be a wakeup call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet." Major League Baseball has begun testing players regularly for opioids since Skaggs' death. (Read more opioids stories.)

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