Albert Belle, the slugger whose career has been tainted by temper outbursts, suspensions and fines, has admitted under oath that he recently lost as much as $40,000 gambling on sports.
Belle, who left the Cleveland Indians and became baseball’s highest-paid player by signing a $55 million, five-year contract with the Chicago White Sox in November, said Tuesday he bet on pro football and college basketball.
He answered the questions about gambling during a 6-hour deposition in a civil lawsuit related to a confrontation he had with Halloween pranksters in 1995.
Belle’s lawyer, Jose Feliciano, said Wednesday his client did not gamble on baseball games.
“None of this stuff had to do with baseball,” Feliciano said. “Absolutely none of it.”
Gambling is a misdemeanor in Ohio, but it was unclear if Belle would face criminal charges as a result of his testimony.
Baseball’s rules are clear: A player is prohibited from betting on major league games. A violation could mean suspension for one year or for life if a bet is placed on the player’s own team.
Kevin Hallinan, baseball’s security head, is investigating to determine whether Belle violated any of baseball’s rules, according to a high-ranking major league official who spoke on the condition he not be identified.
Lawyer Richard Lillie, representing the guardian of a teenager who contends Belle injured him with his truck, said Wednesday he was trying to question Belle’s credibility. Lillie questioned Belle about gambling and other aspects of his past, including treatment for alcohol dependency and an assault conviction.
Lillie said Belle also testified he placed wagers with friends on golf.
“He acknowledged $40,000 in gambling debts,” Lillie said. “He acknowledged purchasing money orders in amounts under $10,000 to pay those debts. He acknowledged betting on professional football and college basketball.”
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