Matt Harvey and Three Others Link Angels Employee to Opioids

FORT WORTH — Pills passed between players and team employees. Teammates did anything they could to work through injuries and keep themselves on the field. On the sixth day of the trial of Eric Kay, a former Angels employee, over his role in the death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs, Matt Harvey and three other former Angels players took the stand and said they had received oxycodone from Kay.

A former communications director for the Angels, Kay is accused of providing Skaggs with fentanyl, an opioid that led to the pitcher’s death in a hotel room in the Dallas area in 2019, two weeks short of Skaggs’s 28th birthday.

Prosecutors have argued that Skaggs’s death came as a result of a pill or pills he received from Kay that may have looked like oxycodone but were actually fentanyl, a more powerful opioid. A medical examiner testified earlier in the trial that fentanyl was the most likely cause of death.

Harvey, who had a reputation for enjoying the nightlife during his time as a pitcher for the Mets, provided testimony on Tuesday in exchange for immunity. In a glimpse into drug use among Major League Baseball players, Harvey discussed how cocaine had been his drug of choice during his time in New York and that he had begun using Percocet, an opioid, during the 2019 season. He said he shared some Percocet with Skaggs.

Kay’s lawyers asked Harvey if he had ever asked Skaggs to be careful with his drug use.

“Looking back, I wish I had,” he said. “In baseball, you do everything you can to stay on the field. At the time, I felt as a teammate I was just helping him get through whatever he needed to get through.”

Harvey said he disposed of oxycodone that was provided to him by Eric Kay ahead of the team’s road trip to Texas in 2019. Credit…Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Federal prosecutors are trying to build a case that establishes that Kay was the only one who could have provided the drugs that led to Skaggs’s death and that Skaggs was given the drugs in Texas. The defense has countered that Skaggs had multiple sources for drugs, including Harvey, and that Kay did not provide any drugs during the trip to Texas.

If convicted ​​on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance resulting in death and serious bodily injury, Kay could face decades in prison.

In his testimony on Tuesday, Harvey said an injury had kept him from joining his teammates on the trip to Texas in 2019. In the lead-up to the trip, he said he had asked Kay about getting some oxycodone, which he said Kay had left in Harvey’s locker — a delivery system that was echoed by multiple players on Tuesday.

Once Harvey heard about Skaggs’s death, he decided to dispose of the oxycodone.

“I got to the stadium and threw it away,” he said. “I wanted absolutely nothing to do with that anymore.”

Kay was the director of communications for the Angels and he would accompany the team on road trips.Credit…Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

Harvey said he was scared and worried Skaggs’s death could have been caused by the pills. He flew to Texas to be with his teammates as they mourned Skaggs.

“I felt terrible,” he said. “He was a teammate. He was a friend. I didn’t want to be alone. I wanted to be with the team.”

After Harvey testified, three other former Angels players — C.J. Cron, Cam Bedrosian and Mike Morin — took the stand, with each describing his relationship with Kay and Skaggs and each discussing having received pills from Kay.

Harvey described problems with some of the pills.

“I broke it in half and took a little piece orally,” Harvey said. “I got shaky and very sweaty. I had a tough time with it.”

Bedrosian, a pitcher who was with the Angels from 2014 to 2020, had similar testimony about pills he said he had received from Kay.

“I remember taking one, and I didn’t feel right,” Bedrosian said. “I ended up giving the rest back to him.”

Cam Bedrosian was one of the four former Angels players who testified on Tuesday. In 2019, he was among the players who paid tribute to Skaggs after his death.Credit…Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

Morin and Cron, who testified about their lengthy relationships with Kay in which pills were routinely exchanged, said they were connected to Kay by Skaggs. And all four of the players who testified said there was a noticeable period in which drugs were hard to come by, which coincided with a period in which Kay was seeking treatment for his own opioid addiction.

On cross-examination of the players, Kay’s lawyers tried to establish that Skaggs could have gotten the drugs from someone else, potentially at Long Beach Airport in California. The defense believes that any drugs provided to Skaggs outside Texas would be outside this court’s jurisdiction, but prosecutors are likely to argue that activity outside Texas was still relevant if it was part of a continuing criminal conspiracy.

The trial will continue this week and could push into next week because of a lengthy list of potential witnesses.

Marina Trahan Martinez reported from Fort Worth and Benjamin Hoffman from Connecticut.

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