MLB to Investigate David Fletcher for Gambling: AP Source

MLB faces another gambling controversy involving a former player

by Zain ul Abedin
MLB to Investigate David Fletcher for Gambling: AP Source
© Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Major League Baseball is set to investigate former Angels player David Fletcher for allegedly gambling on sports through a bookmaker connected to Shohei Ohtani's former interpreter, according to an anonymous source familiar with the situation.

The individual, who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity, revealed that Fletcher's involvement with gambling has prompted this scrutiny. ESPN reported that Fletcher placed bets with Mathew Bowyer, an alleged illegal bookmaker operating in Southern California.

Federal prosecutors claim that Ippei Mizuhara, Ohtani's former interpreter, embezzled nearly $17 million from Ohtani to cover his sports gambling debts in an extensive scheme, even impersonating the Dodgers superstar to deceive bankers.

Fletcher's Betting Details

Sources indicate that Fletcher, currently playing for the Braves' Triple-A affiliate, the Gwinnett Stripers, bet on various sports but not on baseball. MLB's gambling policy strictly prohibits players and team employees from wagering on baseball, even through legal channels.

Additionally, betting on other sports with illegal or offshore bookmakers is banned. The penalties for such violations are determined by the commissioner's office. Fletcher played alongside Ohtani during the latter's six-year tenure with the Angels.

Last December, Ohtani signed a monumental 10-year, $700 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, while Fletcher was traded to the Atlanta Braves. When approached for comments, MLB, Diane Bass (Bowyer's lawyer), the U.S.

Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, and the Ballengee Group (Fletcher's baseball representation) all declined to comment on the ESPN report. Mizuhara pleaded not guilty to charges of bank and tax fraud on Tuesday, a procedural step before finalizing a plea deal he had arranged with prosecutors on May 5.

This case highlights the broader issue of illegal sports betting within professional sports. In a March interview, Fletcher admitted to attending a 2021 poker game in San Diego, where Mizuhara first encountered Bowyer. Fletcher acknowledged knowing Bowyer was a bookmaker at the time but stated he never placed bets through Bowyer’s operation.

This developing story underscores the ongoing challenges MLB faces in maintaining the integrity of the sport amidst growing concerns about gambling. The league's response and any subsequent actions will be closely watched as the investigation unfolds.