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Shohei Ohtani's interpreter accused of stealing millions for illegal gambling: LA Times

Shohei Ohtani's interpreter fired after allegations of "massive theft" from Dodgers star
Shohei Ohtani's interpreter fired after allegations of "massive theft" from Dodgers star 01:27

Attorneys that represent Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani have accused his longtime interpreter with the theft of millions of dollars of his funds to use for illegal gambling, according to a report from The Los Angeles Times.

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Shohei Ohtani (right) and interpreter Ippei Mizuhara (left) during Dodgers Spring Training on Feb. 27, 2024. / Getty Images

They say that Ippei Mizuhara, who has been Ohtani's interpreter since he joined MLB in 2018, engaged in the "massive theft" of Ohtani's money to make bets with bookmaker Matthew Bowyer, who is being targeted in a federal investigation. 

"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," said a statement from Berk Brettler LLP, who are representing Ohtani. 

A Dodgers team spokesperson told the Times that Mizuhara was fired by the team on Wednesday. They confirmed that news in a statement that said:

"The Dodgers are aware of media reports and are gathering information. The team can confirm that interpreter Ippei Mizuhara has been terminated. The team has no further comment at this time."

The exact amount of money has not yet been revealed, but ESPN's Tisha Thompson reported that at least $4.5 million have been transferred from Ohtani's bank accounts to the bookmaking operation. 

"Initially, a spokesman for Ohtani told ESPN the slugger had transferred the funds to cover Mizuhara's gambling debt. The spokesman presented Mizuhara to ESPN for a 90-minute interview Tuesday night, during which Mizuhara laid out his account in great detail," Thompson wrote. "However, as ESPN prepared to publish the story Wednesday, the spokesman disavowed Mizuhara's account and said Ohtani's lawyers would issue a statement."

Attorneys representing Bowyer told the Times that he never interacted with Ohtani in any form and that he has not been charged with a crime. 

Mizuhara told ESPN that he never bet on baseball, instead focusing on other major American sports and international soccer.

The United States Attorney's Office in Los Angeles is investigating the allegations. They said that they have no comment on the matter.

The ongoing investigation reportedly stems from the same illegal gambling case involving former Dodgers player Yasiel Puig, and former minor league player Wayne Nix. Puig had initially planned to plead guilty to charges filed in Nov. 2022 until entering a not guilty plea in Feb. 2023. 

Prior to Wednesday's news, Ohtani and Mizuhara's relationship had been covered in great detail by sports outlets around the nation. 

After the superstar left the Angels to sign his record 10-year, $700 million deal with the Dodgers after the 2023 season, it was all but inevitable that Mizuhara would be joining him. The two were most recently seen together in Seoul, South Korea on Tuesday during their first game of the season against the San Diego Padres. 

The Times reports that Mizuhara was born in Japan but spent the majority of his youth in Southern California, where he graduated from Diamond Bar High School in 2003 before attending the University of California, Riverside. 

He was first assigned to work with Ohtani in 2017 when he was posted to sign with MLB by the Nippon Professional Baseball League's Nippon-Ham Fighters. 

Major League Baseball Player Association said they will not be commenting on the investigation.

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