FORT WORTH, Texas – Former Los Angeles Angels communications director Eric Kay was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison Tuesday for providing pitcher Tyler Skaggs the drugs that led to his overdose death while the team was playing in Texas in 2019.
Kay, 48, was dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit with handcuffs and leg shackles in place as U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means read his sentence. The ex-public relations manager was stoic in response to his punishment, ESPN reported.
After a bailiff warned observers they would be removed from the proceedings if there were any outbursts, Skaggs’ widow and mother as well as members of Kay’s family showed no reaction.
The sentencing took place in federal court in Fort Worth, about 15 miles from where the Angels were supposed to open a four-game series against the Texas Rangers on July 1, 2019, the day Skaggs was found dead in a suburban Dallas hotel room.
Kay was convicted on one count each of drug distribution resulting in death and drug conspiracy. Means recommended Kay serve his time in his home state of California. He has been in custody in Fort Worth since the February conviction.
A coroner’s report said Skaggs, 27, had choked to death on his vomit and that a toxic mix of alcohol, fentanyl and oxycodone was in his system.
The trial included testimony from five major league players who said they received oxycodone pills from Kay at various times from 2017 to 2019, the years Kay was accused of obtaining pills and giving them to players at Angel Stadium. Kay also used drugs himself, according to testimony and court documents.
The sentencing followed emotional testimony from both families.
Although the judge apparently thought the minimum 20 year sentence was unduly harsh under the circumstances, he added two years to it due to Kay’s comments to his family in jailhouse conversations after the conviction, according to ESPN.
During a recorded call, Kay said of the Skaggs family, “All they see are dollar signs. They may get more money with him dead than [when] he was playing because he sucked.”
According to the judge, Kay also said in another exchange, “I’m here because of Tyler Skaggs. Well, he’s dead. So f— him.”
Kay acknowledged the comments while addressing the court.
“That’s disgusting,” Kay responded. “I don’t know why I said that. I was mad at the world.”
Means said the defendant displayed “a callousness and refusal to accept responsibility and even be remorseful for something that you caused.”
“Tyler Skaggs wasn’t a perfect person,” the judge said. “But he paid the ultimate price for it.”
Following Skaggs overdose death in 2019, and with the focus centered on him, Kay said in a statement to Outside the Lines that it’s “time for everyone to stand up and take responsibility,” Law Officer reported at the time.
“I felt and continue to feel that it is time for everyone to stand up and take responsibility for their respective roles in this,” he said in the statement issued by his attorney, Michael Molfetta. “Nothing anyone does will ever provide closure for the Skaggs family. I can’t, the Angels can’t, and the courts can’t, regardless of what happens there. But at least I can help them ‘know’ instead of ‘wonder.’ My hope is that there is some peace in that for them.”
Kay was correct in that “closure” is usually a moving target for family members grieving the loss of a loved one. But what’s “happened here” is that Kay is going to prison for a very long time due to his reckless distribution of narcotics.