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(2nd LD) Ex-pitcher convicted of match fixing pleads innocence of fellow player

Sports 16:11 December 10, 2018

(ATTN: ADDS club's reaction in paras 11-12)

SEOUL, Dec. 10 (Yonhap) -- A former South Korean baseball league pitcher convicted of match-fixing charges claimed on Monday that a fellow ex-player was innocent of the same offenses, saying prosecutors had been untruthful during their investigation.

Former NC Dinos pitcher Lee Tae-yang held a press conference in Seoul, accompanied by former Nexen Heroes outfielder Moon Woo-ram. Both players have received lifetime bans from the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) after being found guilty of fixing games in 2015.

Lee said Moon was wrongfully accused of being part of a fixing scheme just because Moon was with Lee when the latter met with a fixing broker on May 22, 2015.

Lee Tae-yang (L), former Korea Baseball Organization pitcher convicted of match-fixing offenses in 2015, speaks at a press conference in Seoul on Dec. 10, 2018, claiming innocence on behalf of another former player, Moon Woo-ram, who was also found guilty of fixing games.(Yonhap)

Lee said he spoke to the broker alone, without Moon, on May 28, about fixing his start the following day.

Lee claimed that prosecutors in Changwon, 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul, handling the case tricked him into testifying that Moon was involved.

"During the early investigation, one prosecutor told me that some money was taken out of Woo-ram's bank account so I could be paid for fixing. I assumed that Woo-ram must have been aware of this and just told the prosecutor that Woo-ram knew what was going on," Lee said. "But the prosecutor lied about it. Once I found out it wasn't true, I tried to take my statement back, but no one would listen to me,"

Lee said the Dinos hung him out to dry after offering to give him the legal assistance.

"They promised they'd have my back and asked me to turn myself in, but they kept me from speaking to the media and said bad things about me in interviews," Lee said. "And the lawyer that they assigned me kept saying I shouldn't try to speak about Woo-ram's innocence because it'd work against me in trials."

Lee said he felt terrible about dragging Moon into the mess and pleaded for a retrial.

Moon, fighting back tears, said, "Even if I never play baseball again, I want the truth to come out."

In a statement released hours after the press conference, the Dinos denied any wrongdoing on their part and accused Lee of spreading false information.

The Dinos said they tried to help Lee because he told them he was innocent, and they insisted they never once tried to block him from talking to the press.

Also at the press conference, Lee Tae-yang named a handful of active and former KBO pitchers who had fixed games in the past and wondered why those players weren't being investigated.

According to Lee, the fixing broker showed him video clips of those pitchers and tried to persuade him that he could make quick, easy cash like they had.

The players accused by Lee have denied these allegations.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
(END)

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