May 8, 2024 - Sports

Shohei Ohtani's ex-interpreter to plead guilty to stealing millions from Dodgers star

Shohei Ohtani (R) and his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara (L) attend a press conference in Seoul on March 16. Photo: Jung Yeon-je / AFP via Getty Images

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Shohei Ohtani's former interpreter agreed to plead guilty Wednesday to federal criminal charges for stealing almost $17 million from the baseball star to pay off gambling debts.

The big picture: Ippei Mizuhara, the Japanese-language translator who has been alongside Ohtani since his Major League Baseball debut in 2018, was fired by the team in March after allegations of the massive theft.

  • Ohtani denied knowing about the almost $17 million transfers from his own bank account, and said he did not engage in any sports betting, nor did he ask anyone to do it for him.

Zoom in: Mizuhara, 39, agreed to plead guilty to one count each of bank fraud and subscribing to a false tax return, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California.

  • He was charged in a two-count information filed Wednesday, and is expected to enter a plea in the coming weeks, per the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Catch up quick: Starting in September 2021, Mizuhara began placing sports bets with an illegal bookmaker, according to his plea agreement.

  • He quickly started to lose bets and became indebted to the bookmaker.
  • "Unable to pay his gambling debts, [Mizuhara] orchestrated a scheme to deceive and cheat" Ohtani's bank by impersonating him in phone calls to obtain money from his account," the plea states.

Where it stands: His arraignment is scheduled for May 14.

Go deeper: Shohei Ohtani says he never engaged in sports betting

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