Eric Kay, a former Angels public relations employee, was charged by federal authorities in Texas with distributing fentanyl.By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A former spokesperson for the Los Angeles Angels has been taken into custody on federal drug charges in last year’s overdose death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs.

FILE — Tyler Skaggs of the Los Angeles Angels delivers a pitch during a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on June 18, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Getty Images)

Eric Prescott Kay,  45, is accused of providing Skaggs with counterfeit drugs.

He has been charged by federal authorities in Texas with conspiracy to distribute a mixture containing detectable amounts of fentanyl, according to a news release Friday from the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.

Kay was arrested in Forth Worth and made his first court appearance Friday morning.

The 27-year-old Skaggs was found dead in a suburban Dallas hotel room on July 1, 2019, while the team was on the road playing the Texas Rangers.

A toxicology report later determined Skaggs died of an accidental overdose from a mix of alcohol, fentanyl and oxycodone.

When he was first interviewed by DEA agents, Kay denied knowing Skaggs used drugs, prosecutors said.

READ THE FULL CRIMINAL COMPLAINT HERE

However, according to the criminal complaint which was filed July 30 and unsealed Friday, text messages between Kay and Scaggs, along with other evidence, revealed that Kay had stopped by Skaggs’ hotel room late on the night before he died to deliver pills to him.

Text messages sent between Skaggs and Angels Kay on June 30, 2019, the night before Skaggs died of a drug overdose. The text messages were part of the criminal complaint filed against Kay on July 30, 2020. (U.S. Attorney’s Office)

When authorities searched Skaggs’ hotel room, they found several white and pink pills, along with one blue pill, the complaint reads. The white pills were a prescription anti-inflammatory and the pink pills were a prescription oxycodone. However, The blue pill found in the room was determined to be a counterfeit pill laced with fentanyl marked “M/30,” and which investigators learned Kay informally dubbed a “blue boy.”

“Experts later determined that the pill, which closely resembled a 30 milligram oxycodone tablet, had been laced with fentanyl,” said Erin Nealy Cox, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, in a briefing Friday. “It wasn’t prescription oxy at all, it was a deadly counterfeit.”

DEA investigators discovered that Kay dealt blue boys to Skaggs and others at Angel Stadium, the criminal complaint alleges.

If convicted as charged, Kay faces a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Skaggs’ death sent shock waves around the sports world and, last December, Major League Baseball announced it would begin drug testing players for opioids, a move which was precipitated by Skaggs’ death.

Skaggs, who attended Santa Monica High School where his mother is a softball coach, was drafted by the Angels back in 2009. He was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010, but was then traded back to the Angels in 2013, and had been with the Angels ever since. He had married his wife Carli in the offseason just prior to his death.

Skaggs underwent Tommy John surgery that kept him out of action during the 2015 season. He had a career record of 28-38.

In response to the arrest, the Angels released the following statement Friday:

“It has been more than a year since the tragic passing of Tyler Skaggs, and all of us affected by this loss continue to grieve. The circumstances surrounding his death are a tragedy that has impacted countless individuals and families. The Angels Organization has fully cooperated with Law Enforcement and Major League Baseball. Additionally, in order to comprehensively understand the circumstances that led to his death, we hired a former federal prosecutor to conduct an independent investigation. We learned that there was unacceptable behavior inconsistent with our code of conduct, and we took steps to address it. Our investigation also confirmed that no one in management was aware, or informed, of any employee providing opioids to any player, nor that Tyler was using opioids. As we try to heal from the loss of Tyler, we continue to work with authorities as they complete their investigation.”

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