Internet InfoMedia shohei ohtanis former interpreter ippei mizuhara agrees to plead guilty to federal bank tax fraud charges

Ippei Mizuhara, the former interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani, is expected to enter a guilty plea on one count of bank fraud and one count of subscribing to a false tax return, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Mizuhara has been accused of embezzling millions of dollars and allegedly using the ill-gotten gains to cover gambling debts. He will likely formally enter the plea at some point in the next few weeks. Mizuhara is scheduled to be arraigned on May 14, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

“The extent of this defendant’s deception and theft is massive,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada 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.”

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Ohtani with interpreter

Shohei Ohtani, right, of the Los Angeles Dodgers speaks to the media with the help of his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara during DodgerFest a celebration of the upcoming season with live entertainment, behind-the-scenes experiences, food, drinks and meeting the newest Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday, February 3, 2024.  (Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

Federal authorities discovered that Mizuhara stole an estimated $17 million. He will be required to pay full restitution to Ohtani as a condition of the plea agreement.

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Federal investigators filed a complaint against Mizuhara on April 11. One day later, he turned himself into law enforcement, the Department of Justice confirmed.

Ippei Mizuhara looks up

Japanese interpreter Ippei Mizuhara attends a press conference at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, California on December 14, 2023. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said Mizuhara was so intertwined in Ohtani’s life and career that he became the star’s “de facto manager.” The role enabled him to withdraw money from the account — at times lying and impersonating Ohtani to bank employees — to finance his “insatiable appetite for illegal sports betting.”

“Ippei Mizuhara surrendered this morning to the custody of the United States Marshals Service,” federal authorities said Friday in a statement sent to Fox News Digital.

Ohtanti publicly addressed the gambling scandal in late March, saying that he had never placed a sports bet and that Mizuhara’s story about paying off his $4.5 million gambling debt was entirely fabricated.

Shoehi Ohtani introduced as Dodger

Shohei Ohtani is introduced by the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on December 14, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.  (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

“I never bet on baseball or any other sports, or never have asked somebody to do that on my behalf,” Ohtani said through a new interpreter prior to the Dodgers’ final spring training game. “And never went through a bookmaker to bet on sports.”

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Ohtani, who is the highest-paid player in Major League Baseball, said he was still trying to find his emotions after learning about the scandal.

“To summarize how I’m feeling right now, I’m just beyond shocked,” Ohtani said. “It’s really hard to verbalize how I’m feeling at this point.

“I’m very saddened and shocked that someone who I trusted has done this.”

A sentencing date for has yet to be scheduled. 

This is a developing story.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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