Thu, Aug 25, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Players, gangsters face charges in baseball fix

BY RICH CHANG  /  STAFF REPORTER

A Yunlin prosecutor yesterday said he would indict 16 professional baseball players, bookies and gangsters for their involvement in a multi-million dollar baseball game-fixing scandal.

The head of the prosecutor's office said later yesterday, however, that more time was needed to review the case.

Yunlin prosecutor Hsu Wei-yu (徐維嶽) said that he had finished his investigation and prepared charges against 16 defendants that includes five Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) players, nine gangsters involved in bookmaking, one team coach and one team translator on charges of blackmail, fraud and breach of trust.

However, the head of the prosecutors' office Ho Ming-chen (何明楨) said that while Hsu had prepared charges, he had not decided whether the 16 should be formally indicted.

Ho denied there was any disagreement between himself and Hsu over the case. He said that game-fixing investigations had in the past been difficult to prove in court because it is extremely hard to judge whether a player has been playing badly on purpose. Because of this he needed more time to review the evidence to see if it was sufficient to indict.

Hsu later said he had no comment on Ho's statement.

Hsu said the two key men in the scandal, Macoto Cobras second-division coach Tsai Sheng-fong (蔡生豐) and La New Bears catcher Chen Chao-ying (陳昭穎), were released on Sunday after spending a month in detention after plea-bargaining with prosecutors.

Hsu said the two confessed their involvement in game-fixing and offered more evidence and named more players who allegedly were also involved.

As a result prosecutors have recommended a lighter sentence for the two informants.

Hsu said according to Tsai and Chen's statements, prosecutors would launch a second round of investigations.

Hsu said Lee Chuan-lin (李權麟), a gang boss, had made huge amounts of money with other gangsters throughout the nation by organizing illegal betting and rigging games in the CPBL. Lee also used Cheng Chao-ying as an intermediary to reach game-fixing deals with players.

Hsu also said that Lee had made threats to members of each of the six teams in the CPBL, demanding their cooperation as well as arranging for players to wine and dine in private clubs.

Hsu said pitchers, such as La New Bears starter Tai Long-shui (戴龍水), has been paid to throw a game.

Hsu added Chen Chao-ying confessed that he accepted a bribe of up to NT$600,000 on July 14 to instruct the pitcher pairing with him to pitch poorly.

The investigation is a huge blow for the CPBL, which suffered a similar scandal in 1998. Gangsters and gamblers had infiltrated the sport, and the China Times Eagles was disbanded after players were convicted of gambling offenses.

The following year, 18 players, one manager and two bookmakers were convicted and jailed in the case.

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