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Ex-Los Angeles Angels employee sentenced to 22 years in overdose death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs

A former Los Angeles Angels employee was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison Tuesday for providing Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs the drugs that led to his 2019 overdose death in Texas.

Eric Kay, a former media relations director for the Angels, dressed in an orange jumpsuit with handcuffs and leg shackles, didn't react when U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means read his sentence. Kay faced at least 20 years in prison on one of the two counts.

There was no reaction from Skaggs' widow and mother or members of Kay's family, including one of his sons who testified on his behalf before sentencing.

Tyler Skaggs
File photo of Tyler Skaggs of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitching on June 18, 2019, in Toronto, Canada.  Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Prosecutors presented evidence of Kay, 48, making derogatory comments about Skaggs, his family, prosecutors and jurors in phone calls and emails after he was convicted in February.

There was emotional testimony from both sides 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.

In February, Kay was convicted by a jury on one count each of drug distribution resulting in death and drug conspiracy.

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 2017-19, 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.

In December of 2019, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the league would begin drug testing players for opioids. At the time, Manfred told reporters that Skaggs' death helped spark the negotiations with the player's union on the new policy.

"A death of a major league player it is a devastating event," Manfred said, adding that "it was a motivating factor in the commissioner's office and the MLBPA and addressing in the context of our industry what really is a societal problem."

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