MLB star Shohei Ohtani targeted in "massive theft" by longtime interpreter

Los Angeles, California - Representatives of Shohei Ohtani said Wednesday the athlete had been the victim of "a massive theft," reported to involve millions of dollars allegedly stolen by the Japanese ace's interpreter to place bets with a suspected illegal bookmaker.

Shohei Ohtani's longtime interpreter has been fired amid accusations that he stole millions from the MLB star to place bets with an illegal bookmaker.
Shohei Ohtani's longtime interpreter has been fired amid accusations that he stole millions from the MLB star to place bets with an illegal bookmaker.  © Jung Yeon-je / AFP

"In the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft, and we are turning the matter over to the authorities," the West Hollywood law firm Berk Brettler LLP said in a statement.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the firm had looked into the actions of Ohtani's longtime interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, after the newspaper learned that Ohtani's name had surfaced in a federal investigation of alleged illegal bookmaker Mathew Bowyer.

Although the statement did not name Mizuhara, multiple outlets reported the Dodgers fired him on Wednesday.

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The Times, citing two anonymous sources, said the money involved "was in the millions of dollars," and Mizuhara used it to place bets with Bowyer's operation.

ESPN reported questions had arisen around "at least $4.5 million in wire transfers sent from Ohtani's bank account" to an associate of Bowyer.

ESPN said that multiple sources, including Mizuhara himself, told ESPN that Ohtani doesn't gamble and that the funds covered Mizuhara's losses.

Major League Baseball's gambling policy bars "any player, umpire, or Club or League official or employee" from betting on baseball or making illegal bets on any other sport.

While sports betting has been legalized in a majority of US states, online betting, and retail sportsbooks remain illegal in California.

Ohtani's interpreter Ippei Mizuhara fired by Dodgers

Ippei Mizuhara (r.) has been Shoehei Ohtani's interpreter since the superstar signed with the Los Angeles Angels in 2017.
Ippei Mizuhara (r.) has been Shoehei Ohtani's interpreter since the superstar signed with the Los Angeles Angels in 2017.  © Frederic J. BROWN / AFP

Japan's Ohtani, who has been likened to a modern-day version of Babe Ruth, joined the Dodgers in December in a 10-year deal worth $700 million after playing six Major League Baseball seasons with the Los Angeles Angels.

He is currently with the Dodgers in Seoul for a season-opening series against the San Diego Padres.

According to the Times, federal agents raided Bowyer's Orange County, California, home last year.

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He has not been charged with a crime, although the Times reported that Bowyer has appeared in previous court filings and had a $1.75 million judgment against him for defaulting on a line of credit issued to him by a Connecticut casino.

Diane Bass, a lawyer for Bowyer, told the newspaper that he "never met, spoke with, or texted, or had contact in any way with Shohei Ohtani."

Mizuhara, who was born in Japan but was brought up in Southern California, became Ohtani's personal interpreter when he signed with the Angels in 2017 and followed him to the Dodgers.

He has been a close companion of Ohtani, who has emerged as the global face of MLB.

Ohtani's revelation in February that he had gotten married captivated Japan, and his every move this week in South Korea has been headline news.

As Ohtani's star has risen, Mizuhara has been by his side, the two often arriving together at the ballpark for games and training and spending time together away from team facilities as well.

Cover photo: Jung Yeon-je / AFP

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