Former MLB All-Star Yasiel Puig was expected to enter a guilty plea in federal court Wednesday on a charge he lied to investigators about placing wagers with an illegal sports betting operation. However, new information in the case may change that move.
A status conference has been scheduled for next Tuesday afternoon in the US District Courthouse in Los Angeles.
Wednesday evening, Lisette Carnet, Puig’s agent, posted a statement indicating she discovered “newfound evidence” that she shared with her client’s lead defense attorney, Keri Axel. In addition to changing the hearing date, Carnet said Axel also requested federal prosecutors offer more discovery based on the new evidence.
— MLB Player Agent Lisette Carnet (@lisettecarnet) November 24, 2022
“The government’s charge is based on the allegations that Mr. Puig attempted to obstruct its inquiry by not being forthcoming about a person of interest and one of the government’s intended targets in the case,” Carnet said. “Yesterday, the government made available the interview reports pertaining to the person of interest. It revealed facts that are exculpatory to Mr. Puig and appear to corroborate facts that Puig told the government.”
Agent: Puig Felt ‘Rushed’ in Feds Interview
Federal agents said Puig lied in a January interview about placing bets with someone who was connected with Wayne Nix, a former minor league ballplayer who entered a guilty plea in April on gambling and falsified tax return charges. The authorities said in a Nov. 14 release that Puig hindered prosecutorial efforts.
However, Carnet issued a statement the following day questioning the charge.
He came to the interview feeling rushed, unprepared, without criminal counsel with him, and also lacked his own interpreter,” Carnet stated on Nov. 15. “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 benefitted from this care at the time of the interview.”
Authorities say Puig started betting with Nix in May 2019, when he was playing for the Cincinnati Reds, and had lost nearly $283,000 by June. After paying $200,000 toward the losses, Puig made 899 more bets on basketball, football, and tennis between July 4, 2019, and Sept. 29, 2019.
None of the wagers involved baseball games.
— MLB Player Agent Lisette Carnet (@lisettecarnet) November 15, 2022
‘Obligation to Review’ New Evidence
The US Attorney’s press release earlier this month mentioned Puig could face up to five years in federal prison. He also agreed to pay a fine of $55,000. Carnet noted Puig could also receive probation if he goes through with the guilty plea.
On Wednesday, Carnet said that Puig has made great strides in tackling his mental health issues. He last played in MLB in 2019 and played in South Korea this year. For now, she added he just wants to put the federal investigation “behind him.”
“His attorneys, however, have the obligation to review with him all his possible defense, and this new information is sufficient to cause great pause and have his attorneys ask the court for a few days time while defense counsel if able to determine the appropriate next steps for Mr. Puig’s case,” Carnet added.
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