Sports

Shohei Ohtani’s ex-interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, reportedly in negotiations to plead guilty in gambling scandal

The Los Angeles Dodgers have fired interpreter Shohei Ohtani amid allegations of a “massive theft” involving millions of dollars. (Photo by JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images)

Former Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani is in negotiations to plead guilty to allegedly stealing money from Ohtani to cover his gambling debts, Tim Arango and Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times reported Wednesday .

The Dodgers announced that Ippei Mizuhara was fired from his role as Ohtani’s interpreter last month, following claims by Ohtani’s representation that Mizuhara stole funds from the Japanese star’s bank account to cover up his debts to an illegal bookmaker. The amount would have been several million dollars. Ohtani’s representatives were reportedly quick to call for a judicial investigation into the scheme, and MLB opened its own investigation two days after Mizuhara’s firing.

Ohtani was reportedly questioned by the federal government as part of the legal investigation that began about three weeks ago, according to the New York Times. He broke his silence on the scandal on March 26, saying he “never bet on baseball or any other sport.”

The investigation is believed to be a joint effort by the Los Angeles branch of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Division, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. Mizuhara will be represented by Michael Freedman in the matter, the report said. Freedman is a former federal prosecutor who regularly defends white-collar criminals.

It appears that Freedman’s expertise will be put to good use, as prosecutors have reportedly obtained evidence that Mizuhara may have stolen more than the previously cited $4.5 million from Ohtani. Additionally, authorities allegedly discovered that Mizuhara was able to change Ohtani’s bank account settings to ensure that the two-way phenomenon did not receive alerts about transactions.

The first allegations against Mizuhara surfaced while the Dodgers were in Seoul, South Korea, for the club’s season-opening series against the San Diego Padres. Mizuhara was confronted by law enforcement upon his return to California, according to the report, but he was not arrested.

Given that the Ohtani camp’s story regarding the theft has changed twice, Mizuhara’s guilty plea could help clarify the confusing timeline.

Time is also apparently running out for the former performer. A quick admission of guilt could prompt federal prosecutors and judges to impose a milder punishment against Mizuhara.

News Source : sports.yahoo.com
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