Just over two weeks ago, it was reported that Yasiel Puig pled guilty to lying to federal agents during an investigation into an illegal gambling operation. Now he has withdrawn from that plea agreement, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, changing his plea to not guilty. “I want to clear my name,” Puig said in a statement. “I never should have agreed to plead guilty to a crime I did not commit.”
The former big leaguer would have been eligible for probation and had agreed to pay a fine of at least $55,000 under the agreement. Having now withdrawn, Puig could face trial and a maximum sentence of five years in prison. “Significant new evidence” prompted the change, according to Keri Axel, Puig’s attorney. “We are prepared to publicly share that information in the appropriate forum and at the appropriate time,” Axel says.
The government alleges that Puig lost almost $300K on sports bets in the first half of 2019 but then lied to investigators over a Zoom call about it. “Mr. Puig, who has a third-grade education, had untreated mental-health issues, and did not have his own interpreter or criminal legal counsel with him,” Axel says, in relation to that Zoom call.
Puig played in the majors from 2013 to 2019 but there is no evidence in the plea agreement that he bet on baseball.