National / Crime & Legal

Former yakuza member handed suspended jail term for baseball gambling

Kyodo

The Tokyo District Court on Friday sentenced a former member of a Japanese crime syndicate to 18 months in prison, suspended for three years, for taking bets on baseball games involving former Yomiuri Giants players.

Yoshimasa Sakai, a 37-year-old former member of an affiliate of the country’s largest crime syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi, collected ¥1.27 million ($11,093) in bets on baseball games, according to the ruling.

In league with others, he took commissions from bets placed on 22 professional and high school baseball games between March and October 2014 from five people, the ruling said.

In handing down the ruling, presiding Judge Yuko Ito said, “His criminal offense was chronic and the amount of money was not small,” adding, however, that the defendant has reflected on his acts and is now reforming his life after breaking ties with the syndicate.

Sakai was arrested with two others in September for collecting money from several people including a former restaurant operator, who took commissions on bets from three former Giants pitchers including Shoki Kasahara.

Satoshi Saito, the former restaurant operator, and Kasahara, were sentenced in October to 18 months and 14 months in prison, respectively, both suspended for four years.