Former Dodgers All-Star Yasiel Puig Alleges Racial Bias At Core Of Sports Gambling Charges

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Former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig changed his plea to not guilty on the charge of making false statements to federal law enforcement officials regarding bets he placed on sporting events with an illegal gambling operation, which brought about an obstruction of justice charge as well.

Now Puig’s attorneys have requested a judge order federal authorities to turn over records concerning the investigative patterns of the prosecution team that led a five-year probe that resulted in two criminal charges being field against the former Dodgers outfielder.

In their filing in a federal court, Puig’s attorneys alleged there is bias in the treatment of Black witnesses.

“This case caught my attention because I see a clear racial bias in how they evaluated Mr. Puig’s credibility and treated him throughout this case,” said civil rights attorney Ben Crump.

“The government has charged him with what they claim are false statements and obstruction resulting from a single interview, when others who were actually involved in the gambling ring – who lied and destroyed evidence – were not so charged. Yasiel Puig was just a witness, and he was charged, reprimanded, and made an example of more than the non-Black men who were the actual targets of investigation.

“And when Puig asserted his right to plead not guilty, the government further punished him by adding an obstruction charge.”

Crump went on to mention, “This is exactly what President Biden’s appointees promised to tackle: implicit biases, biases that operate against people who are ‘other’ – like Black men, like people from other cultures, and who speak other languages. Yasiel Puig is all of those things.

“Yet here in Los Angeles, California, a place that is supposedly a beacon of liberal values, the new U.S. Attorney won’t even take a meeting to discuss the implicit biases that affected the judgment of his team? The type of prejudice that happened in this case is insidious: a dual standard being applied to Black men, and then stonewalling from the government.”

The filing specifically asked Judge Dolly M. Gee to order the government to produce records that include investigative techniques and practices, which attorneys believe would provide Puig the opportunity to pursue dismissal because of “selective prosecution” — suggesting the government’s prosecutorial policy had both a discriminatory purpose and a discriminatory effect.

Timeline of Yasiel Puig sports gambling probe

Puig’s remarks occurred during a Zoom interview with federal prosecutors in January 2022 related to his betting activity from 2019.

Puig’s attorneys have claimed he was preparing to leave for South Korea when learning the government was investigating the gambling business run by Wayne Nix, a former Minor League player.

They also claim Puig was told he would just be a witness in the case, along with other professional athletes and celebrities. Since then, Puig is the only witness who has been charged by authorities.

Puig initially agreed to plead guilty last November to one count of making false statements to federal law enforcement officials regarding bets he placed on sporting events with an illegal gambling operation. His plea changed to not guilty in December.

Puig was facing a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison and he agreed to pay a fine of at least $55,000 as part of his previous plea deal. Obstruction of justice is a felony under federal law, and it also carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, in addition to fines.

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