LOS ANGELES — The former longtime interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani is being charged with federal bank fraud for crimes involving gambling debts and theft of millions of dollars from the Japanese sensation, federal authorities said Thursday.

U.S. Attorney Marin Estrada announced the charges Thursday.

Ippei Mizuhara served as Ohtani’s interpreter after Ohtani came to the U.S. to play baseball. Estrada says Mizhuara “acted as Mr. Ohtani’s de facto manager.”

Estrada says Mizuhara helped Ohtani set up a bank account where Ohtani developed his baseball salary. Estrada says Mizuhara stole more than $16 million from Ohtani’s bank accounts to pay for his own sports betting and lied to the bank to access the account.

Mizuhara was abruptly fired by the team after the scandal surfaced last month, catalyzed by an IRS Criminal Investigation of an alleged illegal bookmaker. Major League Baseball opened a separate investigation.

Ohtani subsequently laid out a version of events that placed responsibility entirely on Mizuhara, who had given conflicting accounts of whether Ohtani had paid off Mizuhara’s gambling debts.

Ohtani left the Los Angeles Angels in December to sign a record $700 million, 10-year contract with the Dodgers. Ohtani and Mizuhara had been daily companions since Ohtani joined the Angels in 2018.

Mizuhara told ESPN on March 19 that Ohtani paid his gambling debts at the interpreter’s request, saying the bets were on international soccer, the NBA, the NFL and college football. But ESPN said Mizuhara changed his story the next day, saying Ohtani had no knowledge of the gambling debts and had not transferred any money to bookmakers.

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On March 25, Ohtani told a Dodger Stadium press conference that he never bet on sports or knowingly paid any gambling debts accumulated by his interpreter.

“I am very saddened and shocked someone whom I trusted has done this,” the Japanese star said through a new interpreter.

“Ippei has been stealing money from my account and has been telling lies,” Ohtani said. “I never bet on sports or have willfully sent money to the bookmaker.”

Ohtani said he first became aware of Mizuhara’s gambling problem during a team meeting after a season-opening victory over the San Diego Padres in Seoul, South Korea.

There has been no information about the status of baseball’s separate investigation. MLB rules prohibit players and team employees from wagering — even legally — on baseball. They also ban betting on other sports with illegal or offshore bookmakers.



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