Ippei Mizuhara, ex-interpreter for Shohei Ohtani, pleads guilty in sports betting case

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The former translator for the Los Angeles Dodgers star Shuhei Otani Federal prosecutors agreed Wednesday to plead guilty to bank and tax fraud in a sports betting case in which prosecutors alleged he stole nearly $17 million from a Japanese baseball player to pay off debts.

Surrounding scandal Ibi Mizuhara Baseball fans from the United States to Japan were shocked when the news broke in March.

The US Department of Justice announced that Mizuhara will plead guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of engaging in a false tax return. The bank fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison, and the false tax return charge carries a maximum penalty of three years in federal prison.

The plea agreement states that Mizuhara will be required to pay Ohtani restitution that could total nearly $17 million, plus more than $1 million to the IRS. These amounts may change before the ruling is issued.

Prosecutors said Mizuhara will enter his guilty plea in the coming weeks and is scheduled to go to trial on May 14.

“The extent of this defendant’s deceit and theft is enormous,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in a statement. “He used his position of trust to take advantage of Mr. Ohtani and feed a dangerous gambling habit.”

Mizuhara took advantage His personal and professional relationship with Ohtani Loot millions from two-way player account For years, he sometimes posed as Ohtani to bankers, prosecutors said. Mizuhara’s winning bets totaled more than $142 million, which he deposited into his bank account and not Ohtani’s. But his losing bets amounted to about $183 million, a net loss of about $41 million. He didn’t bet on baseball.

Mizuhara Ohtani helped open a bank account in 2018 and began stealing money from that account in 2021, according to the plea agreement. At one point, Mizuhara shipped security protocols and the email and phone number associated with him so that calls came directly to him, and not to Ohtani, when the backend was trying to verify bank transfers. Mizuhara impersonated Ohtani for the bank about 24 times, according to the agreement.

Mizuhara also admitted to falsifying his 2022 tax returns by underreporting his income by more than $4 million.

Mizuhara’s attorney, Michael J. Friedman, did not comment on the deal Wednesday.

there was There is no evidence that Ohtani was involved in it Or is aware of Mizuhara’s gambling and the player as well Cooperating with investigatorsThe authorities said.

Los Angeles Times And espn News of the allegation broke in late March, prompting the Dodgers to fire translator W MLB to open its own investigation.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he had no comment on Wednesday’s plea deal, adding: “I just hope it brings more closure to the situation.”

MLB rules Ban players and team staff Of betting on baseball, even legally. MLB also prohibits betting on other sports with illegal or offshore bookmakers.

Mizuhara was free on a $25,000 unsecured bond, known colloquially as a signature bond, meaning he did not have to post any cash or sureties to be released. If he violates the terms of the bond — which includes a requirement to undergo treatment for gambling addiction — he will be on the hook for $25,000.

Ohtani sought to focus on this area as the case moved to the courts. Hours after his former translator made his first court appearance in April, he beat his translator No. 175 home run in MLBtied Hideki Matsui for the most Japanese-born players, during the Dodgers’ 8-7 loss to the San Diego Padres in 11 innings.

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