FORT WORTH, Texas — A former Los Angeles Angels employee was sentenced Tuesday to 22 years in federal prison for supplying Angels pitcher Taylor Skaggs with the drugs that led to his overdose death in Texas.
Eric Kay, in an orange jumpsuit, handcuffs and shackles, did not respond when U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means read his sentence. Cain faces at least 20 years in prison on one of the two counts.
There was no response from Skaggs’ widow and mother or Kay’s family, including one of his sons who read a statement on his behalf before sentencing. A bailiff warned observers they would be kicked out of the courtroom for any outbreak.
Prosecutors presented evidence of Kay, 48, who made derogatory comments to Skaggs, his family, prosecutors and jurors in phone calls and emails after his February conviction.
July 1, 2019, when Skaggs was found dead in a Dallas suburban hotel room
Kay was found guilty of distributing drugs causing death and conspiracy to commit drugs. Means advised Kay to serve in his home state of California. He has been serving time in Fort Worth jail since his conviction.
The coroner’s report said Skaggs, 27, suffocated from vomit containing a toxic mixture of alcohol, fentanyl and oxycodone.
The trial included testimony from five major league players who said they received Kay’s oxycodone pills at various times between 2017 and 2019, the years Kay was accused of obtaining the pills and giving them to players at Angel Stadium. Kay himself also used drugs, according to testimony and court documents.
After revealing the verdict, Means said he feared the day from the start of the case because the 20-year minimum might be considered too harsh for a crime.
Means he added two years because Kay made comments to his family in prison talks after his conviction.
“All they saw was dollar signs,” Kay said of the Skaggs family in a recorded call. “They’d probably get more money after he died than [when] He plays because he sucks. “
The judge interrupted Kay, quoting the former PR employee in another exchange, “I’m here because of Taylor Skaggs. Well, he’s dead. So fuck him.”
“It’s disgusting,” Kay responded. “I don’t know why I say that. I’m angry with the world.”
Maines appeared skeptical, even saying at one point after the sentencing he could be the target of Kay’s wrath.
The judge said Kay displayed “callousness, refusal to take responsibility, and even remorse for what you have caused.”
“Taylor Skaggs is not a perfect person,” the judge said. “But he paid the ultimate price for it.”
Kay sobbed as one of his three sons addressed the judge from the podium, asking for clemency. Widow Carli Skaggs fought back tears in the same way she testified during trial.
“I am not only grieving the loss of my husband,” she said. “I’m grieving the loss of myself.”
Defense attorney Cody Cover, who took over after Kay’s two trial attorneys were removed, sought a motion to allow Means to consider a sentence lower than the 20-year minimum. It was rejected.
“We are extremely grateful to all who have worked hard to investigate and prosecute Eric Kay,” the Skaggs family said in a statement. “Today’s verdict has nothing to do with the number of years the defendant has been sentenced. The real issue in this case is holding accountable those who distributed the deadly drug fentanyl.”
Kay served as the team’s PR liaison on multiple road trips, and the trip to Texas was his first since his recovery. Shortly after Skaggs’ death, Kay was placed on leave and never returned to the team. He did not testify during the trial.
The government argued at the trial that Kay was the only person who could give Skaggs the drug that caused his death, that the delivery took place in Texas, and that fentanyl was the cause of death. Prosecutors said Kay gave Skaggs the fake drug oxycodone that contained fentanyl.
This report uses information from the Associated Press.