Sun, Aug 13, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Official released but billiards star remains missing

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

An independent councilor of Jhonghe City was released yesterday after paying NT$2 million (US$61,270) in bail for his alleged involvement in a gambling ring and the case of missing billiards star Jennifer Chen (陳純甄).

Chen has gone missing since early this month after allegedly running up huge gambling debts.

Investigators on Friday night arrested Jhonghe City Councilor Yu Hsiang-hsien (游象賢), 41, on suspicion of running an online gambling network and for questioning over Chen's disappearance.

"Prosecutors had applied with the Banciao District Court to detain Yu in the hope of breaking his gambling network, but the court decided to release him on NT$2 million bail," Tseng Chiun-che (曾俊哲), spokesman for the Banciao District Prosecutors' Office, told the press yesterday.

Prosecutors on Friday raided Yu's residence, office, a hostess pub in Taipei County allegedly run by Yu, an underground company that offers online betting on sports games and Chen's Taipei residence.

Tseng said that as prosecutors were probing a bribery case relating to election of the speaker for Jhonghe City Council, they found a number of phone conversations between Yu and Chen about sports betting and Chen's debts.

Prosecutors said that Yu first enticed Chen to gamble on local professional baseball games by saying he knew which and how games were fixed. Chen then started betting on baseball games through online gambling sites run by Yu and other gangsters.

According to local media reports, Chen's addiction to betting on sports such as local baseball games and US Major League baseball games led to gambling debts of more than NT$10 million, which she has been unable to pay.

Prosecutors said that in June, Yu further enticed Chen to bet on World Cup games to win back some money to pay her debts, and even agreed to let Chen pay by check instead of cash.

However, Chen reportedly lost more than NT$10 million in the World Cup games.

The officials added that on July 24, Yu ordered his gangsters to negotiate with Chen and demand that she give up her Taipei residence to cover her gambling debts. Chen soon went missing after the meeting.

Chen is rumored to be hiding out in Hong Kong, trying to evade bookmakers.

The 30-year-old billiards star, nicknamed "Beautiful Baby," came to prominence in the 1990s, claiming the Women's Professional Billiards Association's world number one ranking in March 1999.

Chen won a bronze medal for billiards at the 2001 World Games and a silver medal in last year's World Games.

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