Shohei Ohtani’s ex-interpreter agrees to guilty plea in $16.5M embezzlement scandal

Shohei Ohtani’s ex-interpreter agrees to guilty plea in $16.5M embezzlement scandalShohei Ohtani’s ex-interpreter agrees to guilty plea in $16.5M embezzlement scandal
via Jo (left), MLB (right)
Ryan General
17 days ago
Ippei Mizuhara, former interpreter and confidant to Major League Baseball (MLB) superstar Shohei Ohtani, has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges.
Key points:
  • Mizuhara’s plea agreement was filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
  • Under the agreement, Mizuhara is set to plead guilty to bank fraud and filing a false tax return.
  • Federal prosecutors say he stole approximately $16.5 million from Ohtani to pay off gambling debts.
  • Ohtani is considered a victim and has cooperated with the investigation.
Catch up:
The details:
  • Ohtani, who doesn’t speak English fluently, relied on Mizuhara as a translator and close confidant. 
  • Mizuhara allegedly used Ohtani’s login information to steal money from his bank account over a 17-month period. He impersonated Ohtani on the phone with the bank to authorize transfers for gambling debts. He also admitted to failing to report income from his scheme on his tax return.
  • Mizuhara faces up to 30 years in prison for the bank fraud charge and an additional three years for the tax offense. The 39-year-old Japanese national, who is staying in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident with a green card, could also be deported following the sentencing.
  • Prosecutors have stressed that there is no evidence to suggest any wrongdoing by Ohtani.
  • “The extent of this defendant’s deception and theft is massive,” US Attorney Martin Estrada said. “He took advantage of his position of trust to take advantage of Mr. Ohtani … My office is committed to vindicating victims throughout our community and ensuring that wrongdoers face justice.”
What’s next:
  • Mizuhara is scheduled for arraignment on May 14.
Tangent:
  • The investigation into Mizuhara is part of a larger probe into illegal gambling operations. The case avoids a potential scandal for MLB, similar to Pete Rose’s gambling ban in 1989.
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