Taiwan baseball stars Chen Chih-yuan and Chang Chih-chia indicted in game-fixing scandal
Chen expelled from Brother Elephants, but vows appeal if sentenced
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2010-02-10 04:50 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Brother Elephants star outfielder Chen Chih-yuan and former La New Bears pitcher Chang Chih-chia could face two years in prison after prosecutors announced a list of 24 indictments in Taiwan’s most recent baseball game-fixing scandal Wednesday.

After the announcement, the Elephants expelled Chen from the team, reports said. The player said he would file an appeal if he was convicted.

Elephants pitcher Tsao Chin-hui, a former player with the Colorado Rockies and the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Sinon Bulls center fielder Hsieh Chia-hsien did not feature on the list announced by the Banciao District Prosecutors Office in Taipei County.

Tsao and Hsieh “accepted unsuitable benefits,” including sex, but “there was insufficient evidence that they threw games after receiving those benefits,” prosecutors office spokesman Cheng Hsin-hung told a news conference.

Elephants pitcher Liao Yu-cheng received a suspended indictment because he admitted everything and paid back his illegal earnings, Cheng said.

Prosecutors also requested two years in prison for former Elephant Tsai Feng-an.

The heaviest sentence, nine years in prison, a fine of NT$50 million and three years forced labor, was reserved for Tainan County Council Speaker Wu Chien-pao. Opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers first accused the local politician of being behind the scheme, but he denied the allegations.

Prosecutors said Wu used intimidation to force members of the now defunct Chinatrust Whales to throw games in 2006 after they failed to play along with a first attempt.

Prosecutors wanted 18 months in prison for former Elephants manager Shin Nakagomi, the only foreign national involved in the case.

The latest of several game-fixing scandals to hit Taiwan baseball erupted last October when prosecutors detained six suspects including retired baseball players after nationwide raids. One of the men arrested, Tsai Cheng-yi, also known by his nickname “Windshield Wiper,” was reportedly the brains behind a gambling ring which paid players in cash and side benefits to lose games.

The prosecutors asked for a lenient sentence for Tsai because he fully cooperated with the investigation and never threatened the baseball stars involved in his scam. Previous game-fixing scandals saw organized crime intimidating players, but this time the athletes willingly participated in the scheme, prosecutors said.

The investigation first targeted the Brother Elephants before turning on the La New Bears. Since Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League only counts two other teams, the Sinon Bulls and the Uni-President Lions, the scandal seemed to threaten the very existence of professional baseball in the country while dragging down its most popular stars.

Chen Chih-yuan, nicknamed “the Golden Warrior,” is the highest-paid fielder in Taiwan and also frequently appears in commercials. Chang Chih-chia played for the Seibu Lions before returning to Taiwan. Both have denied involvement in the scheme, though media reports alleged a link between Chang’s love of expensive cars with payments from the gambling ring.

In a related development, the La New Bears team was reportedly suing 13 players for a total of over NT$100 million in compensation, including NT$4.56 million from Chang.

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