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Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Jung-ho Kang has learned his punishment for a third DUI arrest in his native South Korea: An eight-month suspended sentence that should allow him to avoid jail time if he doesn’t get into more trouble.
Kang, 29, has yet to report to Pirates spring camp because of his DUI trial in South Korea, which began Feb. 22. On Thursday night (Friday in Korea), a judge ruled that Kang’s eight-month jail sentence would be suspended two years effectively allowing him to head back to the U.S. to play baseball.
According to Jeeho Yoo of Korea’s Yonhap News:
Prosecutors had sought a summary order with a fine of 15 million won [$13,000 in the U.S.] on Kang. But the court determined Kang’s case was serious enough that it must be processed through a trial.
The ruling clears the path for Kang to travel to the United States and join the Pirates in spring training long underway. Kang has had to stay in Seoul for his trial on Feb. 22 and verdict hearing Friday.
In the immediate aftermath of the December accident, a friend of Kang’s in the car, surnamed Yoo, claimed to have been behind the wheel, but police later found out Kang had actually driven the car, with the blood alcohol content of 0.084 percent. The legal limit here is 0.05 percent. The court ordered Yoo to pay a fine of 3 million won on Friday for lying to police.
Kang had previously been arrested for DUIs in 2009 and 2011, when he was playing professional baseball in Korea. This third arrest came in December. Since then, he was booted off Korea’s World Baseball Classic team and he agreed to enter an alcohol rehabilitation program, according to his agent.
Last year, Kang played 103 games for the Pirates, hitting 21 homers, driving in 62 runs with an OPS of .867. It was his second year in MLB.
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