Report: Shohei Ohtani's Former Interpreter Negotiating to Plead Guilty to Theft in Gambling Scandal |

Report: Shohei Ohtani’s Former Interpreter Negotiating to Plead Guilty to Theft in Gambling Scandal

Ippei Mizuhara stands accused of covering his gambling debts by stealing millions of dollars from Shohei Ohtani’s bank account.

via: CBS Sports

Ohtani’s former translator embroiled in a gambling scandal presently gripping Major League Baseball, is negotiating to plead guilty to multiple federal crimes related to the scandal, the New York Times reports. The investigation is reportedly being co-led by the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal division, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Tim Arando and Michael S. Schmidt of the Times write:

“Those briefed on the matter claim that prosecutors have uncovered evidence that Mizuhara may have stolen more money from Ohtani than the $4.5 million he was initially accused of pilfering, the people said. In particular, the authorities think they have evidence that Mizuhara was able to change the settings on Ohtani’s bank account so Ohtani would not receive alerts and confirmations about transactions, the three people said.”

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California declined to comment when reached by CBS Sports Wednesday night. Mizuhara’s attorney also declined to comment when reached by CBS Sports.

Last month, the Los Angeles Dodgers, who signed Ohtani to a record $700 million free-agent contract this past offseason, fired Mizuhara as Ohtani’s interpreter while the team was in South Korea for their season-opening series against the Padres. The move came after Mizuhara was alleged to have illegally gambled on sports with a California bookmaker who is the subject of a larger investigation.

Mizuhara, who had worked with Ohtani since he signed with the Angels ahead of the 2018 season, first claimed in an interview with ESPN that Ohtani agreed to pay off his gambling debts. However, the interpreter and close friend to Ohtani later changed course and said Ohtani had no knowledge of the situation and did not make transfers to the bookmaker. The Times reported Wednesday that at some point, Mizuhara also told Ohtani’s agent, Nez Balelo, that the player was covering the debts of an unidentified teammate. Ohtani’s lawyers during this time claimed that their client had been the victim of “massive theft.” The bookmaker, through his lawyer, has claimed he never met or had contact of any kind with Ohtani.

Ohtani claimed publicly that he has never bet on baseball or any other sports and that Mizuhara stole from his bank account.

“I do want to make it clear I never bet on sports or have willfully sent money to the bookmaker,” Ohtani said in a translation by Dodgers interpreter Will Ireton in late March. “To summarize how I’m feeling right now, I’m beyond shocked. It’s hard to verbalize how I’m feeling at this point.”

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