Six people were taken into custody and five released on bail yesterday in the latest game-fixing scandal to hit professional baseball.
The six men detained incommunicado were former Brother Elephants pitcher Chuang Yu-lin, previously known as Chuang Hung-liang, former La New Bear pitcher Huang Chun-chung, the suspected leader of the gambling ring Tsai Cheng-yi, and three others involved in handling the game fixing, said Cheng Hsin-hung, the spokesman for the Banciao District Prosecutors Office.
The suspects were accused of fraud and illegal gambling, and could collude with witnesses and other suspects, the spokesman said. So far, no evidence had surfaced of violence or threats, Cheng said, in contrast to past cases when organized crime figures threatened players to fix the games. Chuang and Huang reportedly played the role of middlemen, keeping an eye on the players bought to throw the games.
Yesterday, former La New Bears catcher Chen Shao-ying showed up for questioning, but the main event is scheduled for Wednesday.
Investigators were scheduled to question eight players from three of the four remaining teams in the Chinese Professional Baseball League. The list included Tsao Chin-hui and five colleagues from the Brother Elephants, as well as Chang Chih-chia, formerly with Japan's Seibu Lions, now with the La New Bears, and power hitter Hsieh Chia-hsien from the Sinon Bulls.
Tsao, the first Taiwanese player to compete in United States Major League Baseball, released a statement Monday expressing his anger and surprise at being suspected in the case, less than a year after his return to Taiwan to join the Elephants.
The latest scandal broke in the early hours of Monday, when investigators searched 29 premises across the country and summoned 14 suspects and three witnesses for questioning. Prosecutors said they had witnessed strange developments during major games between May and September. Investigators also found 20,000 amphetamines and other drugs during the raids, Cheng said.
The new game-fixing controversy is already the fifth to hit the Chinese Professional Baseball League in its 20-year history. Previous scandals led to the expulsion and complete disbandment of teams.
Only last year, the dmedia T-Rex team was found to have been throwing games, leaving only four teams in the CPBL. The Elephants, Bears and Bulls all have players listed to be questioned by prosecutors, with the fourth team, the Uni-President Lions, the only exception.
The Lions won the finals of the seven-game CPBL Taiwan Series for the third year in a row by defeating the Elephants 5-2 Sunday night, on the eve of the prosecutors' raids.