Ohtani’s former interpreter pleads guilty in sports betting scandal

The former interpreter appeared in court in southern California on Tuesday to enter a guilty plea.

Ippei Mizuhara, the former interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to bank and tax fraud. 

Mizuhara admitted to stealing nearly $17 million from Ohtani to pay off his sports betting debts. 


Driving the news: Given his position as interpreter, Mizuhara exploited his personal and professional relationship with Ohtani to access bank accounts and siphon millions of dollars over several years. 

  • He resorted to impersonating Ohtani to bankers in order to settle his sports gambling debts using the player’s funds.
  • The fraudulent activity involved Mizuhara’s winnings totaling over $142 million deposited in his own account, while his losses from bets amounted to around $183 million, resulting in a net loss of nearly $41 million.
  • Mizuhara did not place any bets on baseball games, and there is no evidence that Ohtani was aware of the gambling. 

What we’re watching: Mizuhara is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 25. 

  • He faces a maximum of 30 years in prison for bank fraud and three years in prison for the false tax return charge. 
  • Mizuhara has also been ordered to pay restitution to Ohtani that could total nearly $17 million and over $1 million to the IRS. 

What they’re saying: Ohtani said in a statement Tuesday that it is time to close this chapter and move on, thanking his family and the Dodgers for their support. 

  • “Now that the investigation has been completed, this full admission of guilt has brought important closure to me and my family,” Ohtani said. “I want to sincerely thank the authorities for finishing their thorough and effective investigation so quickly and uncovering all of the evidence.”
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