Former Baseball Pro Lim Chang-yong Charged with Fraud and Gambling Offenses 

Former pro baseball player Lim Chang-yong was charged with fraud and gambling offenses last month, according to delayed reports from his native Korea.

The one-time Chicago Cubs pitcher has faced several legal troubles since 2016. In 2022, Korean authorities sentenced him to six months in prison and two years probation for “habitual gambling,” which is considered a serious crime in the country. 

Now it can be revealed the state believes that, before his previous sentence, Chang-yong borrowed KRW80 million (US$64,000) from an acquaintance, only to never pay it back because he lost it playing baccarat.

His fraud trial began in Gwanju District Court on June 5. He is set for a second appearance on June 11.

Eventful Career

The baseball star has had a succesful career spanning several of the world’s top baseball leagues and events.

This included winning a bronze medal with team Korea at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, a brief stint with Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs, and hitting the top 10 rank for various all-time pitching stats in Korea’s KBO league.

However, later in his career, it seems that his tendency to gamble got the better of him. This was complicated by the strict gambling laws in Korea, which prohibit citizens from gambling abroad. 

In 2016, Chang-yong was fined KRW10 million (US$8,000) for participating in gambling at Macau casinos. He was punished alongside fellow Korean baseball player Oh Seung-hwan, who at the time was playing in Major League Baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals. 

The pair were also banned from the KBO for half a season, although neither player was in the league at the time. 

Back to Baccarat

Seung-hwan would not be found gambling again. By 2018, Chang-yong retired from baseball after playing a final season for Korea’s top team, the KIA Tigers.

But the lure of the baccarat tables saw him return to his old ways. In 2022, he was caught gambling in Macau once again. That time, he was hit with a three million won ($2,195) fine, and sentenced to six months in prison plus a two-year probation period. 

During his probationary period, accusations emerged that the former baseball pro borrowed money from an acquaintance in the Philippines to fund his gambling. This resulted in the fraud charges, which were levelled against him at the end of April. 

Gambling, especially by current and former public figures, is considered a strong social ill in South Korea. Habitual gambling can be punished with up to three years in prison, even if the betting occurs outside South Korea.

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