Jennifer Chen Disappears; Huge Gambling Debts Reported

Taiwanese billiard superstar Jennifer Chen is reportedly missing and believed to be hiding from gangsters after running up enormous gambling debts.

Asian TV and print media have been buzzing about Chen’s disappearance since early August, reporting that the 31-year-old WPBA pro allegedly had lost as much as $600,000 gambling on Taiwanese and U.S. baseball, and the 2006 World Cup.

Reports of her whereabouts have varied, with some claiming she has gone into hiding in Hong Kong, and others claiming she has fled to the U.S.

It’s a case with the whiff of the sensational in Taiwan, where the photogenic Chen has long been a celebrity as a pool player, sports broadcaster and actress.

According to a report in the Aug. 13 edition of the Taipei Times, prosecutors in a related case involving a gambling ring were able to gather intelligence on Chen’s gambling debts. Allegedly, gangsters met with Chen on July 24 and demanded that she give up her Taipei residence in order to cover the debts, the Times reported. Chen went missing soon after the meeting.

WPBA officials have not heard from Chen since mid-June, according to tour director Peg Ledman. Chen did not compete in the WPBA’s Florida Classic in late June, nor the Midwest Classic, held July 27-30 in East Peoria, Ill., dropping her ranking to 19th.

Chen told Ledman in mid-May that she did not intend to play in the two events, and that she instead would be working with an acting coach, the tour director said. Their last contact was in mid-June, when Chen confirmed via telephone that she would not attend the Florida Classic.

Chen won a bronze medal in billiards at the 2001 World Games and a silver medal at the 2005 World Games.