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Monday, July 15, 2024

Shohei Ohtani’s Former Interpreter Pleads Guilty to Stealing $17 Million, Tax Fraud

  • Ippei Mizuhara pleaded guilty in federal court and faces up to 33 years in prison.
  • It’s the second gambling-related charge for the MLB on Tuesday.
Dec 14, 2023; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Ippei Mizuhara, the translator for Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, during an introductory press conference at Dodger Stadium.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The former interpreter and friend of Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani, Ippei Mizuhara, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of bank fraud and one count of subscribing to a false tax return.

Mizuhara admitted that he stole nearly $17 million from Ohtani to support his illegal gambling addiction and did not reflect his betting income on his tax return.

“I worked for victim A and had access to his bank account and had fallen into major gambling debt,” Mizuhara told the federal court in Santa Ana, Calif. “I went ahead and wired money … with his bank account.”

Mizuhara agreed to a plea deal in early May. He faces up to 33 years in federal prison, five years of supervised release, a $1,250,000 fine, and a $200 mandatory special assessment. He will also be required to “pay full restitution” to Ohtani. Those amounts could change prior to his sentencing, the hearing for which is set for Oct. 25. Mizuhara never bet on baseball, and he accumulated total losses of nearly $41 million.

Mizuhara’s attorney and federal prosecutors declined to comment to the media outside the courthouse following the roughly 45-minute hearing.

Earlier Tuesday, MLB banned Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano for life, and doled out one-year suspensions to four other players who bet on major league games while playing in the minors. Marcano placed 387 baseball bets, 25 of which were on the Pirates while he was on the team’s injured list for the team.

In May, MLB announced it had opened an official investigation into allegations of gambling by David Fletcher, a former friend and teammate of Ohtani on the Angels. Fletcher and his friend, fellow minor leaguer Colby Schultz, are reported to have used the same illegal California bookmaker as Mizuhara.

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