Former MLB All-Star Yasiel Puig Withdraws Illegal Sports Betting Guilty Plea

  • Puig had previously agreed to plead guilty to lying about making illegal sports bets
  • Puig’s attorney said federal agents interviewed him while he had “untreated mental-health issues”
  • Attorney’s review of evidence has led to “serious concerns” about the allegations against Puig
  • Famous civil rights attorney Lawrence Middleton has joined Puig’s legal team as a consultant
Yasiel Puig
Ex-L.A. Dodger Yasiel Puig has come out fighting after announcing a new plea of not guilty of lying to federal agents over illegal sports bets. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Puig changes plea to not guilty

Ex-Los Angeles Dodger Yasiel Puig has thrown the Department of Justice a curveball after he announced a new plea of not guilty of lying to federal agents.

about-face comes less than a month after Puig agreed to plead guilty

Wednesday’s about-face comes less than a month after Puig agreed to plead guilty to lying to federal agents about bets he placed on sporting events via an illegal gambling operation run by ex-minor league player Wayne Nix. Puig took to Twitter with a link to a statement issued by his attorneys Waymaker LLP, while insisting his accusers were making him “look like a monster”:

According to the statement, Puig’s backtracking was prompted by “significant new evidence,” that Puig’s attorney Keri Axel said she was in discussions with the government over.

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

Mental health issues

The new evidence appears to hinge on Puig’s alleged mental health at the time he gave the interview to federal agents in January 2022. Axel said Puig had “untreated mental-health issues, and did not have his own interpreter or criminal legal counsel with him.”

serious concerns about the allegations made against Yasiel”

The attorney added that Puig, who currently suits up for South Korean professional baseball franchise Kiwoom, also has “a third-grade education.” Axel added that her firm’s review of old and new evidence has led to “serious concerns about the allegations made against Yasiel.”

In November, the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California (USAO) released a statement saying that Puig agreed to plead guilty to one count of making false statements. According to the Department of Justice, the ex-Dodger made illegal sports bets in 2019 via a firm coordinated by Nix and later lied to federal agents about making the bets. The Waymaker statement said Puig placed the bets “through a third party and did not interact with Nix.”

While the USAO said in November that Puig faces up to five years in prison, the law firm’s statement said Puig was eligible for probation under his plea agreement, but that he had chosen to contest the allegations.

All-Star attorney aiding Puig

Puig’s MLB player agent Lisette Carnet took to Twitter to share her client’s happiness with the new turn of events, adding “we are looking forward to demonstrating his innocence”:

Puig’s Instagram excerpt expressed his honor at having renowned civil rights attorney Lawrence Middleton in his corner, who Axel revealed had joined the Puig’s legal team as a consultant.

Middleton was one of four attorneys who won federal convictions against the two of the LAPD officers who beat Rodney King in 1991. The former federal and special prosecutor also once headed the criminal division of the USAO for the Central District of California.