6 febrero, 2023

Puig pleads not guilty in federal case


Attorneys for Yasiel Puig announced today that significant new evidence has prompted Puig to withdraw his agreement to plead guilty to a charge of lying to federal investigators and change his plea to not guilty.

In mid-November, Puig reached an agreement to plead guilty to one count of making false statements to federal investigators probing an illegal gambling ring in Southern California. Those statements occurred during a Zoom interview in January 2022 and related to betting that occurred in 2019.

Although Puig was eligible for probation under his plea agreement, he has decided to fight the allegations.

»I want to clear my name,» Puig said. «I never should have agreed to plead guilty to a crime I did not commit.»

Puig’s attorney, Keri Axel of Waymaker LLP, said significant new evidence has come to light that prompted the change in plea. She is in discussions with the government about that evidence.

«At the time of his January 2022 interview, Mr. Puig, who has a third-grade education, had untreated mental-health issues, and did not have his own interpreter or criminal legal counsel with him,» she said. «We have reviewed the evidence, including significant new information, and have serious concerns about the allegations made against Yasiel.»

The charge against Puig stems from an investigation into a sports gambling operation run by Wayne Nix, a former minor-league baseball player. Puig, who has been playing baseball in South Korea, placed bets in 2019 through a third party and did not interact with Nix.

Nix, 46, pleaded guilty April 11 to one count of conspiracy to operate an illegal sports gambling business and one count of filing a false tax return. Four other men also pled guilty to federal charges in the Nix case.

Federal authorities said a number of professional athletes placed wagers with Nix. Puig is the only athlete targeted by authorities.

Axel said renowned civil rights attorney Lawrence Middleton has joined Puig’s legal team as a consultant. Middleton was one of four attorneys who prosecuted the federal civil rights trial of LAPD officers in the Rodney King case. He also served as Chief of the Los Angeles United States Attorney’s Office’s Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section.

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