By Eric Levenson, Ashley Killough and Chuck Johnston, CNN
The former Los Angeles Angels employee who provided the drugs that resulted in the 2019 overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs was sentenced to 22 years in prison on Tuesday on drug charges.
Eric Prescott Kay, the former communications director of the Angels, faced between 20 years and life for his conviction in February on charges of distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances.
He had been accused of providing drugs to Skaggs, a 27-year-old pitcher, that resulted in his death in a Texas hotel room on July 1, 2019 before his team was set to play the Texas Rangers.
In court Tuesday, prosecutors introduced jail phone calls and emails in which Kay insulted Skaggs, his family and the jury.
“I hope people realize what a piece of s*** he is,” he told his mother in a recorded jailhouse call. “Well, he’s dead, so f*** ’em.”
Kay also called the Skaggs family “dumb” and “white trash” and called the jury that convicted him “fat, sloppy, toothless, and unemployed.”
He expressed regret for the comments in court and said he was “selfish,” angry at the world and venting his frustrations.
“Tyler Skaggs was a sweetheart of a man,” Kay said, calling him “kind.”
Judge Terry R. Means said he added two years above the 20-year minimum because of Kay’s demeaning comments.
“What I see coming from your mouth … was not just vitriol but a callousness and a refusal to accept responsibility or even be remorseful for something you caused,” Means said.
Kay’s attorney had asked for a minimum 20-year sentence, he said in a statement.
What happened at trial
Skaggs died by choking on vomit after using drugs and alcohol, according to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office. High levels of opioids, including fentanyl, oxycodone and oxymorphone, were found in his system, as well as alcohol, according to toxicology results.
Geoffrey Lindenberg, a Drug Enforcement Administration special agent, wrote that “but for the fentanyl” in Skaggs’s system, the medical examiner determined, the pitcher “would not have died.”
According to court records, a search of Skaggs’s phone revealed text messages from the day before his death suggesting that he had asked Kay to stop by his room with pills late that evening.
The DEA’s investigation found that Kay regularly dealt pills of fentanyl — dubbed “blue boys” for their blue coloring — to Skaggs and others in the Angels organization at the stadium where they worked, according to an affidavit in support of a criminal complaint.
At trial, a series of former players, including Matt Harvey, C.J. Cron, Mike Morin, and Cameron Bedrosian, testified that Kay distributed the pills to them, the Department of Justice said.
Skaggs, a first-round draft pick in 2009, was reacquired by the Angels before the 2014 season and had a 28-38 record in his career. He last pitched for the Angels two days before his death.
“The Skaggs family learned the hard way: One fentanyl pill can kill. That’s why our office is committed to holding to account anyone who deals in illicit opioids, whether they operate in back alleyways or world class stadiums,” US Attorney Chad E. Meacham said in a statement. “Mr. Skaggs did not deserve to die this way. No one does. We hope this sentence will bring some comfort to his grieving family.”
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CNN’s Matt Lait and Jacob Lev contributed to this report.