Ohtani Translator Pleads Guilty in Plea Deal

Prosecutors Will Recommend Lighter Sentence

Former Shohei Ohtani interpreter Ippei Mizuhara has made a deal with the US Department of Justice. According to a DOJ press release, the former Ohtani translator pleads guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of subscribing to a false tax return. The bank fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years. Mizuhara could receive three years on the tax charge. Mizuhara, whose arraignment is on May 14, also admitted he owes roughly $1,149,400 in taxes for 2022.

“Our joint investigation with Homeland Security Investigations clearly showed Mr. Mizuhara not only stole from Mr. Ohtani, but also that he lied to the IRS about his income, “said Special Agent in Charge Tyler Hatcher, IRS Criminal Investigation, Los Angeles Field Office. “Mr. Mizuhara exploited his relationship with Mr. Ohtani to bankroll his own irresponsibility. In cases where we are able to identify them, we make every effort to make things right for victims, and this is one of those cases.”

The plea agreement, where the Ohtani translator pleads guilty, was filed Thursday and stated, “Mizuhara was an employee of the Los Angeles Angels MLB team, for whom Ohtani played from 2018 to 2023, and, later, the Los Angeles Dodgers, for whom Ohtani has played since 2024, Ohtani paid him separately for the additional work of driving him to meetings and interpreting for non-baseball-related activities.”

Mizuhara began making bets with an illegal bookmaker in September 2021. Being a California resident, Mizuhara did not have access to the best betting sites online. He also likely figured betting through an illegal bookie would keep his bets private. He was wrong on this one.

The problem is Mizuhara’s expert picks weren’t so good and he began losing heavily. That started the chain of events that led to his arrest.

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Stealing From Ohtani

Mizuhara then changed the login on Ohtani’s bank account and also the security settings. The Department of Justice said, “Mizuhara changed the registered email address and telephone number on the account so bank employees would call him – not Ohtani – when attempting to verify wire transfers from the account.” He also “called the bank and impersonated Ohtani on approximately 24 occasions.”

Despite falling deeper in debt, Mizuhara continued to bet to try and recoup previous losses. He just wasn’t very good at it. There’s no way of knowing if he needed betting odds explained and he didn’t completely know what he was doing. Regardless, the losses piled up and the DOJ says Mizuhara stole nearly $17 million from Ohtani.

“The extent of this defendant’s deception and theft is massive,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “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.”

The plea agreement, in which the Ohtani translator pleads guilty, is expected to be accepted by the court. Judges do have the authority to reject plea agreements, although it doesn’t happen very often. Mizuhara could be deported, as he isn’t a U.S. citizen.

Mizuhara’s attorney and a spokesman for Ohtani did not want to comment on the deal.

For sports news today, betting analysis, and more, visit Point Spreads Sports Magazine.


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