Dodgers Star Shohei Ohtani Gets a Big Break in Fraud Case Involving Interpreter

Dodgers Star Shohei Ohtani Gets a Big Break in Fraud Case Involving Interpreter

Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani may be breathing a sigh of relief this morning, assuming he’s seen the reports about his former interpreter’s negotiations with prosecutors.

According to The New York Times, Ippei Mizuhara, whom the Dodgers fired last month, is prepared to plead guilty to at least some of the crimes with which he is accused, likely clearing Ohtani’s name in the process.

Mizuhara allegedly stole $4.5 million from Ohtani, his “close friend for years,” to pay off gambling debts, according to the Times.

Suspicions were first raised during a federal investigation into Mathew Bowyer, a California man thought to be an illegal bookmaker, according to Fox News.

Reporters asked the Dodgers about “suspicious wire transfers from Ohtani’s account” while the team was in South Korea for its opening series against the San Diego Padres, the Times reported.

However, Ohtani was not informed of those questions, the outlet reported, as his interpreter and agent “tried to manage the crisis themselves.”

At first, Mizuhara told Ohtani’s agent that Ohtani had paid the gambling debts of an unnamed fellow player, but he later confessed that the debts were his.

After the opening game, Mizuhara was asked by the Dodgers to address the team, whose executives — along with those of Major League Baseball — had grown concerned that a gambling scandal could damage the reputation of the highest-paid player not only in MLB, but in all of North American sports.

Apparently relying on his good friend’s limited understanding of English, Mizuhara confessed to a gambling addiction at a team meeting, but claimed that Ohtani had paid off his debts, the Times said.

But even Ohtani’s limited English, which is sufficient to allow him to “understand the gist of some conversations,” according to the Times, was enough to cause him to be suspicious of his friend’s comments at the meeting.

“After Mizuhara’s clubhouse address, Ohtani told reporters, he confronted Mizuhara back at the team hotel,” the paper reported. “It was then, Ohtani said, that Mizuhara told him that he had stolen the money from his account.

“The Dodgers promptly fired him,” the Times added.

Fox noted that some suspected that the debts were, in fact, Ohtani’s, and that his long-time friend was taking the fall for him.

Ohtani, however, argued that he “never bet on baseball or any other sports, or never have asked somebody to do that on my behalf,” according to Fox, and the accused bookie’s lawyer supported that claim.

Bowyer’s attorney told the Los Angeles Times that “Mathew Bowyer never met, spoke with, or texted, or had contact in any way with Shohei Ohtani,”

In addition to the ongoing federal investigation into Bowyer, MLB told Fox that it was conducting its own investigation into the situation.

A confession from Mizuhara in exchange for a lighter sentence, however, could bring that investigation to a more rapid conclusion.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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