Shohei Ohtani's Former Interpreter To Plead Guilty To Fraud In US

Photo: Instagram/Ippei Mizuhara

Ippei Mizuhara, the former interpreter for Japanese baseball sensation Shohei Ohtani, has agreed to plead guilty to charges in the United States related to the illegal transfer of nearly $17 million from Ohtani's bank account. 

In a deal struck with Los Angeles prosecutors, Mizuhara will plead guilty to bank fraud and filing a false tax return. The allegations shocked baseball fans both in Japan and America when they surfaced in March. 

Prosecutors claim that Mizuhara, 39, used Ohtani's funds to settle his own debts and fuel a gambling habit. He reportedly deceived bank officials by posing as Ohtani to authorize wire transfers to associates of an illegal gambling operation. Additionally, he allegedly spent $325,000 on baseball cards using Ohtani's money between January and March of this year.

Photo: Instagram/Ippei Mizuhara and Shohei Ohtani

The charges against Mizuhara carry significant penalties, with bank fraud punishable by up to 30 years in prison and filing a false tax return carrying a potential three-year jail term. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors will recommend a reduced sentence, and Mizuhara is expected to enter his plea in the coming weeks.

Mizuhara was terminated from his position in March when the allegations came to light. Ohtani, 29, expressed shock and sadness at the betrayal of someone he trusted. The baseball star, who recently signed a lucrative contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, had relied heavily on Mizuhara since his move to the US in 2018.

Mizuhara's proficiency in translating Ohtani's comments into colloquial English had earned him praise in Japan. However, his actions have cast a shadow over their longstanding partnership, leaving fans and observers stunned by the extent of the deception.

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Source: BBC News 

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