Ohtani’s ex-interpreter pleads not guilty — but just for now – Orange County Register

Dodger Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter pleaded not guilty on Tuesday, May 14, to federal charges of stealing nearly $17 million from the Dodger slugger’s bank account to pay off illegal gambling debts — but he has agreed to plead guilty at a later date.

The arraignment for Ippei Mizuhara, 39, in downtown Los Angeles was a procedural matter. Last week, he agreed to plead guilty to one count each of bank fraud and subscribing to a false tax return, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The bank fraud charge carries a possible prison term of up to 30 years, while the tax charge carries up to three years in federal prison.

A date has not been set for him to enter his guilty plea.

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“The extent of this defendant’s deception and theft is massive,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada has said in a statement. “He took advantage of his position of trust to take advantage of Mr. Ohtani and fuel a dangerous gambling habit. My office is committed to vindicating victims throughout our community and ensuring that wrongdoers face justice.”

Mizuhara was charged last month with bank fraud and surrendered to federal authorities on April 12. He was released on $25,000 bond.

Estrada has said Mizuhara had an “insatiable appetite” for illegal sports betting, which landed him millions of dollars in debt to a bookmaker and led him to transferring money out of Ohtani’s bank account without his knowledge.

Mizuhara worked as an interpreter for Ohtani since the slugger joined the Angels organization six years ago. In that capacity, he helped Ohtani set up a bank account in Arizona, which eventually became the source of wire transfers to the illegal gambling operation, Estrada said.

Estrada stressed that Ohtani was a victim in the case and had no knowledge of Mizuhara’s actions.

According to Estrada, Mizuhara also allegedly lied to bank officials, and he was captured on tape-recorded calls impersonating Ohtani to “convince the bank to approve large wire transfers of large amounts of money to the bookmakers.”

According to an affidavit filed in federal court by Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations special agent Chris Seymour, records obtained from a source within the illegal gambling operation showed that between December 2021 and January 2024, about 19,000 wagers were attributed to Mizuhara, averaging roughly 25 per day and ranging in amounts from about $10 to $160,000.

During that period, the records show, Mizuhara had winning bets worth nearly $142.3 million, and losing bets of $182.9 million.

Bank records show that the contact information on the Arizona bank account, which was opened in March 2018, was at one changed to a phone number and email linked to Mizuhara.

The Dodgers fired Mizuhara earlier this year when news of the criminal investigation broke.

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