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Shohei Ohtani’s ex-interpreter has agreed to plead guilty to charges of illegally transferring nearly  million from the Dodgers star’s account.
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Shohei Ohtani’s ex-interpreter has agreed to plead guilty to charges of illegally transferring nearly $17 million from the Dodgers star’s account.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter has agreed to plead guilty to charges of illegally transferring nearly $17 million from the Dodgers star’s bank account – without permission – to pay off his own massive gambling debts he incurred in an illegal bookmaking operation and for signing a false tax return.

In a statement released Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Ippei Mizuhara, 39, of Newport Beach, agreed to plead guilty to one count of bank fraud, which carries a statutory maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, and to one count of subscription fraud. to a false tax return, which carries a prison sentence of up to three years.

The press release did not mention Ohtani by name, identifying him only as “a Major League Baseball player.”

Mizuhara agreed to undergo court-ordered gambling addiction treatment last month after federal prosecutors accused him of stealing millions from the Japanese baseball player to pay off debts.

Mizuhara’s initial appearance in federal court on April 12 marked the first time the interpreter has been seen in public since the scandal exploded last month.

Hours after the procedure, Ohtani said from the Dodger Stadium field that he was “very grateful” for the investigation and that he would focus on baseball in the future.

Mizuhara took advantage of his personal and professional relationship with Ohtani to plunder millions from the two-way player’s account for years, sometimes posing as Ohtani to bankers, prosecutors said.

Before the plea deal was announced, Mizuhara faced a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison if convicted of one count of bank fraud.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria A. Audero ordered Mizuhara to seek treatment as a condition of his bond in the sports betting case. Michael G. Freedman, the interpreter’s attorney, said his client was planning to do so anyway.

Although he is best known as the voice of Ohtani across the country, Mizuhara spoke alone on Friday to answer the judge’s questions. He said yes when Audero asked if he understood different parts of the case.

Mizuhara hopes “to reach an agreement with the government to resolve this matter as quickly as possible so that he can take responsibility,” Freedman said in a statement issued after the hearing.

He added that his client “would like to apologize to Mr. Ohtani, the Dodgers, Major League Baseball and his family.”

A criminal complaint filed April 11 detailed the alleged scheme through evidence including text messages, financial records and recordings of phone calls. Mizuhara’s winning bets totaled more than $142 million, which he deposited into his own bank account and not Ohtani’s. But his losing bets amounted to about $183 million, a net loss of almost $41 million. He didn’t bet on baseball.

Other bond conditions stipulate that Mizuhara may not gamble, either electronically or in person, enter gambling establishments or deal with well-known bookmakers.

Mizuhara was released after the hearing on a $25,000 unsecured bond, colloquially known as a signature bond, meaning he did not have to post any cash or collateral to be released. If he violates the terms of the bond, he will have to pay $25,000.

The judge noted his family ties and long-term residence in Southern California and deferred when she approved the bond. She also said he had no criminal record.

Although Ohtani’s name was never mentioned during the hearing, his presence loomed large during the roughly 10-minute proceeding in a courtroom packed with press, much of it Japanese media. The judge and prosecutor only briefly referred to the baseball star as “the victim.”

DEVELOPMENT: More details will be added to this report as they become available.

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