Ohtani interpreter accused of stealing millions from star for illegal gambling
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Ohtani interpreter accused of stealing millions from star for illegal gambling

Major League Baseball star Shohei Ohtani has stated that he was ‘beyond shocked’ to hear that Ippei Mizuhara, his longtime interpreter, had allegedly stolen more than $4.5 million from his bank account to use on illegal sports betting, and thus to fund his gambling addiction. 

Mizuhara is being accused of this massive theft by the lawyers hired to defend the Dodgers’ star player. 

In recent weeks, the alleged theft that took place from the MLB star’s banking account has opened up a significantly larger issue that lies at the core of sports betting. 

In this article, we will be delving into this story as it has been uncovered so far, providing you with the multiple statements that individuals who have been close to the matter have made. 

Keep in mind that the unfolding of events related to this story is still at its very beginning and nothing concrete has been confirmed thus far. 

What led to this accusation? 

Here, we will explain the unfolding of events that led to the first wisps of suspicion surrounding the interpreter to come to the surface. 

The discovery of this alleged theft was made following an investigation into Matthew Bowyer, a bookmaker living in Orange County, California, who is suspected of carrying out illegal gambling activities

During this investigation, the name Shohei Ohtani was discovered in the bookmaker’s books

After further investigation into this matter, it was discovered that Ippei Mizuhara, the baseball star’s interpreter and trusted friend, had, allegedly, been the one responsible of stealing millions of dollars from Ohtani’s bank account in order to pay the illegal bookmaker currently being investigated. 

The exact amount of money that has been stolen from Ohtani’s bank accounts has not been confirmed at this time.  

Multiple sources have stated, however, that the total amount is suspected to be in the millions, and at least $4.5 million has allegedly been transferred from Ohtani’s funds to the illegal bookmaking operation. 

In addition to this, the gambling debts of the MLB star’s interpreter appear to amount to more than $1 million

Bowyer’s attorneys have stated that the bookmaker has never engaged in any interaction with Ohtani in any way, and no crime has been charged. 

The statements made by Ohtani himself, or were they? 

Ohtani is a Los Angeles Dodger’s star who is widely considered to be the most popular baseball player in the world, as well as a very well-known celebrity in Japan, his native country. 

After allegations regarding his trusted interpreter emerged, Ohtani attended a press conference in order to address the inquiries made by journalists, however he did not take any questions directly from the media. 

When first confronted regarding this developing news, Ohtani’s words were still being translated by the interpreter who was at the center of the issue itself. 

It is no surprise, therefore, that statements that were diametrically opposed to each other were shared during this early stage. 

In his first statement, Ippei Mizuhara had remarked that not only had Ohtani known about his gambling debt but had offered to pay them off himself on his behalf: 

“Obviously, he [Ohtani] wasn’t happy about it and said he would help me out to make sure I never do this again. He decided to pay it off for me. 

“I want everyone to know Shohei had zero involvement in betting. I want people to know I did not know this was illegal. I learned my lesson the hard way. I will never do sports betting ever again. 

It quickly became evident, however, that this was not the case at all, and that Mizuhara had lied in his initial statement. 

Mizuhara has also stated that he has never before placed a sports bet on baseball, an action that, carried out by an individual working for the MLB, would be illegal.  

The interpreter confessed that his betting activities have focused solely on major American sports and international soccer

Ohtani’s real comments on the matter 

Following Mizuhara’s comments made to the media, Ohtani himself clarified what had occurred: 

The MLB star confirmed that he had been completely unaware of the fact that Mizuhara was going to speak to the media the week prior, and that the first time he had become aware of the alleged theft and the major accusations being thrown his interpreter’s way was during a team meeting that took place the week before. 

In addition to this, Ohtani stated that, prior to this meeting, he was unaware of his former interpreter’s gambling addiction. 

This statement goes completely against the comments made by Mizuhara himself, who, it appears, had lied to defend the actions that had come to the surface. 

When this became apparent, Ohtani made a statement, this time through his new interpreter, Will Ireton

“All of this has been a complete lie. Ippei obviously basically didn’t tell me about the media inquiry. So Ippei has been telling everyone around that he has been communicating with me on this account to the media and my team and that hasn’t been true.” 

Following this, Ohtani went on to say that not only has he never bet on any sport, but he has never sent any money to Mizuhara to cover any gambling debt: 

“[I am] beyond shocked, it’s hard to verbalize how I am feeling at this point.” 

“I never bet on baseball or any other sports or never have asked somebody to do it on my behalf and I have never gone through a bookmaker to bet on sports and was never asked to assist betting payments for anyone else.” 

“Ippei has been stealing money from my account and has told lies.” 

One must keep in mind that players of Major League Baseball are forbidden from betting on baseball. Some states in the US, over 40 of which have legalized gambling, allow players to bet on other sports, but this is not the case in California where gambling is not legal. 

If players were to place a bet on their own team, and it was discovered, they would face a lifetime ban

The actions taken so far 

A spokesperson for the Dodgers team stated that Mizuhara was recently fired by the Dodgers themselves. 

Shortly after this was communicated, the team confirmed this unfolding of events by issuing the following statement: 

“The Dodgers are aware of media reports and are gathering information. The team can confirm that interpreter Ippei Mizuhara has been terminated. The team has no further comment at this time.” 

In addition to this, the Dodgers team have contacted the appropriate authorities and will leave it to them to carry out the ongoing investigation pertaining to this matter. 

The United States Attorney’s Office that is located in Los Angeles is currently investigating this matter. No comment has been issued thus far. 

The West Hollywood law firm Berk Brettler has also made a statement with regards to these events: 

“In the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft, and we are turning the matter over to the authorities.”

What we know about Ippei Mizuhara 

Ippei Mizuhara was born in Japan in 1984, but later transferred to Southern California with his parents.  

Much of his youth, in fact, was spent in California, where he graduated from Diamond Bar High School in 2003. Later, the former interpreter attended the University of California, Riverside. 

Mizuhara first met Ohtani back in 2017, when he was assigned to work with the baseball star. During this time, the interpreter was posted to sign with Major League Baseball by the Nippon Professional Baseball League’s Nippon-Ham Fighters

Overall, very little has been confirmed about Mizuhara’s past, with most individuals who have commented about their experiences with him stating that he was a rather quiet but very hard-working man. 

Another sports betting scandal that has recently blown up 

Jontay Porter, a professional basketball player for the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association (NBA), has recently been under investigation for multiple betting irregularities that have been discovered in recent months. 

The National Basketball Association is currently investigating the matter in question.  

The betting irregularities being investigated include prop bets on the player's scoring, rebound and assist totals garnered from a few of the games in which he took part in these past few months. 

If you’d like to know more about this still developing story, make sure to read the full article where we will explain all that has been uncovered so far

About the authorMelanie Cazenave
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A specialist in online casinos, she also loves proofreading. With her, it's impossible for mistakes to slip through the cracks. A true lover of letters, she binds articles and retouches them to make them as perfect as possible.

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