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Ippei Mizuhara, former interpreter of baseball star Shohei Ohtani, will plead guilty in gambling case
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Ippei Mizuhara, former interpreter of baseball star Shohei Ohtani, will plead guilty in gambling case

Mizuhara will enter his guilty plea in the coming weeks and will be arraigned on May 14, prosecutors said.

“The magnitude of this defendant’s deception and theft is enormous,” United States Attorney Martin Estrada said in a statement. “He abused his position of trust to take advantage of Mr. Ohtani and fuel a dangerous gambling habit.”

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. 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.

There was no evidence that Ohtani was involved or aware of Mizuhara’s gambling, and the player is cooperating with investigators, authorities said.

The Los Angeles Times and ESPN broke news of the accuser in late March, prompting the Dodgers to fire the interpreter and MLB to open its own investigation.

MLB rules prohibit players and team employees from betting on baseball, even legally. MLB also prohibits betting on other sports with illegal or offshore bookmakers.

Mizuhara was released 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 — including the requirement to undergo gambling addiction treatment — he will have to pay $25,000.

Ohtani has tried to focus on the field as the case winds through the courts. Hours after his former interpreter made his first appearance in court in April, he hit his 175th MLB home run, tying Hideki Matsui for the most by a Japanese-born player, during the 8-7 loss of the Dodgers vs. the San Diego Padres in 11 games. innings.

Christopher Weber and Stefanie Dazio, The Associated Press