Ex-Shohei Ohtani Interpreter Ippei Mizuhara Expected to Plead Not Guilty

Sports betting scandal engulfs another high-profile figure

by Zain ul Abedin
Ex-Shohei Ohtani Interpreter Ippei Mizuhara Expected to Plead Not Guilty
© Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — Ippei Mizuhara, the ex-interpreter of MLB superstar Shohei Ohtani, is to be arraigned on Tuesday on charges of bank and tax fraud during his stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The move is expected as part of a procedural step before he enters into a final plea agreement with federal prosecutors in relation to a wide-ranging sports betting investigation.

Mizuhara, who once facilitated communication for Ohtani, stands accused of misappropriating nearly $17 million from the renowned pitcher and designated hitter. Authorities allege that he used the stolen funds to cover extensive debts incurred from sports betting.

Over several years, Mizuhara reportedly impersonated Ohtani in communications with banking officials, exploiting their personal and professional ties to execute his scheme.

Plea Agreement Details

The charges are detailed in a plea agreement dated May 5, which prosecutors filed in court shortly thereafter.

The case is part of a sweeping crackdown on illegal sports betting operations that have implicated numerous prominent figures in the sports and entertainment industries. As this case continues to unfold, literally all of sports are following along, as the combination of Mizuhara and Ohtani is one of the most high-profile and promising in any sport.

The charges are ones that outline a particularly heinous breach of trust but, at the same time, underline the vulnerabilities that are all part and parcel of the personal connections characterizing the sports industry. Legal representatives for Mizuhara had little in the way of further comment but continued to confirm that their client was cooperating with federal authorities continuing to investigate this tangled web of financial and legal violations.

This case therefore presents not only a reminder of the existing problems of illegal betting in sports but also the personal and financial consequences that may arise out of such actions. As Mizuhara gears to put across his formal replies in front of the accused, the sports world is on its toes, waiting and watching if this case could probably shape up the future policies that would have stringent rules on gambling and money-related issues in the sports domain.

Shohei Ohtani