Shohei Ohtani's Former Interpreter Officially Charged

By Jason Hall

April 11, 2024

Photo: Getty Images

Ippei Mizuhara, the former interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani, is now reportedly federal charges in relation to gambling scandal that led to his firing last month, ESPN's Alden González and Jeff Passan reported on Thursday (April 11).

"Ippei Mizuhara, Shohei Ohtani's longtime interpreter and confidant, has been charged with bank fraud after it was discovered he transferred more than $16M from Ohtani's account to an alleged illegal sports book, federal authorities announced in L.A. court," González wrote on his X account.

González's confirmation comes hours after the New York Times initially reported that Mizuhara, 39, was facing federal federal charges and negotiating to plead guilty.

Mizuhara was fired by the Dodgers amid accusations that he stole "money from my account and has told lies," Ohtani said while initially addressing the incident and denying his own involvement in March. Sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed to TMZ Sports that Major League Baseball was reportedly investigating Ohtani's involvement in the gambling scandal at the time of his denial.

Representatives for Ohtani are reported to have contacted law enforcement authorities and asked them to investigate a "massive theft" of money from the two-way baseball player, a source with direct knowledge of the situation told ESPN on March 21. Mizuhara, a longtime friend of Ohtani, reportedly sent $4.5 million from Ohtani's bank account to a Southern California bookmaking operation currently under federal investigation.

The interpreter's firing came after reporters asked questions about the wire transfers. A spokesperson for Ohtani claimed the baseball player transferred the funds to cover Mizuhara's gambling debt and presented the interpreter, who went into detail about his actions to ESPN during a 90-minute interview on March 19.

The spokesman would later disavow Mizuhara's account of the incident and said Ohtani's lawyers would prepare a statement when ESPN published its story on March 20.

"In the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft, and we are turning the matter over to the authorities," a statement obtained by ESPN from Berk Brettler LLP reads.

Ohtani, who spent his first six MLB seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, announced his decision to sign with the Dodgers in a post shared on his Instagram account December 9. The Japanese native is arguably the biggest star in baseball as one of the league's best starting pitchers and hitters.

Ohtani led his country to a World Baseball Classic last March, days before his second AL MVP season in which he hit for a .304 average with a league-best 44 home runs and 95 RBIs and recorded a 10-5 record with a 3.14 ERA and 167 strikeouts in 23 starts and 132.0 innings pitched in 2023. The Japanese star signed a record-setting $700 million deal to join the Dodgers this offseason -- having previously spent his entire MLB career with the Los Angeles Angels -- which included the team deferring $68 million of the $70 million annual salary in an effort to have more spending room.

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