Mar 20, 2024 - Sports

Dodgers fire Shohei Ohtani's interpreter for alleged theft of player's funds

On the right is Dodgers' player Shohei Ohtani and to his left is his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara.

Dodgers' star player Shohei Ohtani and his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. Photo: Christian Petersen

The Dodgers fired Shohei Ohtani's interpreter Wednesday following allegations of "massive theft."

Why it matters: Ippei Mizuhara, the interpreter who has been alongside Ohtani since his Major League Baseball debut in 2018, is accused of using funds from the two-way player's bank account to cover gambling debts incurred with an illegal bookmaker.

  • The wire transfers allegedly totaled at least $4.5 million, according to ESPN.
  • The illegal bookmaking operation, led by Orange County resident Matthew Bowyer, is currently under federal investigation. Ohtani's name surfaced during the investigation.
  • Bowyer's lawyer, Diane Boss, told the Los Angeles Times that Bowyer "never met, spoke with, or texted, or had contact in any way with Shohei Ohtani," and dealt directly with Mizuhara.

Between the lines: MLB employees are prohibited from gambling on any MLB games. Players and employees are allowed to place bets on other sports with legal bookmakers only.

  • Mizuhara placed bets on sports other than baseball, according to ESPN.

Zoom in: "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," Berk Brettler LLP, the law firm representing Ohtani, told Axios.

  • The Dodgers said in a media statement that it was aware of reports and was gathering information.
  • "The team can confirm that interpreter Ippei Mizuhara has been terminated. The team has no further comment at this time," the statement added.

What they're saying: Mizuhara told ESPN on Tuesday that Ohtani had settled his gambling debts at the translator's request. But after Brettler's statement a day later, Mizuhara said Ohtani didn't know about his gambling, nor his debts, nor his repayment efforts, ESPN reports.

  • "Obviously, this is all my fault, everything I've done," he said, per ESPN. "I'm ready to face all the consequences."
  • The MLB did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment Wednesday.

Flashback: Ohtani, 29, signed a record 10-year, $700 million contract with the Dodgers in December after spending six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels.

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