Interpreter for LA Dodgers Star Ohtani Enters Plea in $17M Theft Case

Disgraced former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara, once a constant presence by LA Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani's side, is set to plead guilty to charges of bank fraud and tax evasion, according to the Associated Press. This unravels an embezzlement scheme where Mizuhara allegedly stole nearly $17 million from the Los pro baseball player to feed his gambling addiction.

LA Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani (left) and his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, in a press conference. (Source: Getty Images)

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Prosecutors allege Mizuhara, entrusted as Ohtani's interpreter since 2018, exploited the language barrier and the two-way player's trust. According to the US Attorney's Office, Mizuhara had access to a bank account solely for Ohtani's finances. He allegedly abused this access, diverting funds to cover his own gambling debts.

Related: MLB Scrutinizes Shohei Ohtani's Connection to Gambling Scandal

The indictment details a period between December 2021 and January 2024 where Mizuhara placed a staggering 19,000 wagers, accumulating significant losses. Investigators believe his gambling habits spiraled out of control, leading him to desperately steal from the athlete he was supposed to be supporting.

Mizuhara will plead guilty to one count each of bank fraud and presenting a false tax return. He won't enter a plea on theft charges but will reportedly be ordered to pay back Ohtani the $17 million he stole. He will also have to pay a fine of $1 million to the US Internal Revenue Service. He reportedly lied on his 2022 tax returns, failing to report income of over $4 million

Mizuhara faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for the bank fraud charge and up to three years for the tax evasion charge. His arraignment is scheduled for May 14, 2024, where he is expected to formally enter his guilty plea.

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Reality TV Plays Leading Role in Scandal

The exact path of the stolen funds remains under investigation. However, ESPN reports that a portion of the money was wired to a reality TV personality associated with the "Real Housewives" franchise.

ESPN's sources told the media outlet that authorities suspect Ryan Boyajian, a cast member of Bravo’s reality TV series “The Real Housewives of Orange County," acted as a middleman. He allegedly helped Mizuhara launder the money through casino accounts at Resorts World Las Vegas and Pechanga Resort Casino in California. The full extent of the reality TV star's involvement and the purpose of this financial maneuvering are still being pieced together.

Ohtani has been identified as a victim in this case. He has cooperated fully with authorities throughout the investigation.


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