Dodgers Fire Shohei Ohtani’s Interpreter After Gambling Allegations

Posted on: March 20, 2024, 08:17h. 

Last updated on: March 20, 2024, 09:40h.

A long-time interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers star player Shohei Ohtani reportedly was canned Wednesday in the midst of improper gambling accusations.

Shohei Ohtani, left, and Ippei Mizuhara
Shohei Ohtani, left, and Ippei Mizuhara in a photo. Mizuhara was fired by the LA Dodgers as Ohtani’s interpreter after a gambling controversy. (Image: Sporting News)

It was revealed that the interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, 39, was facing massive sports gambling debts, totaling at least $4.5M, owed to an allegedly illegal operation.

Based on an initial report on Tuesday, Ohtani wired money to cover his friend’s and colleague’s mounting losses.

But as more details were revealed, a law firm representing Ohtani said he was in fact the victim of a theft.

We discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft, and we are turning the matter over to the authorities,” West Hollywood-based law firm Berk Brettler LLP said in a statement released on Wednesday afternoon.

The allegations came to light after reporters asked about wire transfers which displayed Ohtani’s name.

That includes Ohtani’s name on two $500K payments that were made in September and October.

The transfers were sent from an account belonging to Ohtani to an associate linked to a bookmaking entity based in Southern California, ESPN initially reported. The bookmaking operation is run by Mathew Bowyer of California, according to ESPN.

Mizuhara told Ohani that he would eventually pay him back, according to Mizuhara’s statements on Tuesday.

Ohtani “wasn’t happy about it and said he would help me out to make sure I never do this again,” Mizuhara initially told ESPN.

Two-time MLB MVP Ohtani, 29, is currently under a 10-year, $700-million contract with the Dodgers. That is a record amount for North American professional sports. Originally from Japan, he formerly played for the Angels.

Story Quickly Changes

But Mizuhara’s version of events changed by Wednesday afternoon.

During more recent statements, Ohtani was unaware of Mizuhara’s gambling debts and Ohtani never wired money to the unnamed associate, Mizuhara told ESPN on Wednesday afternoon.

At no time were there accusations which link Ohtani to gambling, ESPN further reported.

It appears Mizuhara wagered on soccer games and other athletic events since 2021, according to ESPN. The other sports were NBA and NFL games, as well as college football. There was no betting on MLB games.

All My Fault

“Obviously, this is all my fault, everything I’ve done,” Mizuhara told ESPN. “I’m ready to face all the consequences.”

I want people to know I did not know this was illegal. I learned my lesson the hard way. I will never do sports betting ever again,” Mizuhara told ESPN.

Mizuhara also said this week that he has a gambling addiction.

Mizuhara’s salary from the team is between $300K and $500K a year.

It was also revealed that Bowyer’s bookmaking operation is under federal investigation, ESPN reported.

Sports betting on credit is illegal in California. But Mizuhara thought wagers made through Bowyer’s operation were legal, ESPN reported. Mizuhara had made wagers earlier through another legal operation.

In response to the controversy, a California attorney representing Bowyer, Diane Bass, issued a statement on Wednesday to ESPN.

Mr. Bowyer never met or spoke with Shohei Ohtani,” she said. She did not provide details.

During a search of Bowyer’s residence last October, federal agents confiscated cash, casino chips, a money-counting machine, computers, and other items, ESPN reported.

Mizuhara first met Bowyer in 2021 during a San Diego poker game. That year, Mizuhara began to make bets through his operation, according to ESPN.

Las Vegas Connection?

As feds investigate Bowyer, reportedly the same federal prosecutors, some of whom are believed to work in Las Vegas, previously looked into illegal sports betting linked to Wayne Nix. Nix, a former minor league baseball player, has pled guilty to running an illegal sportsbook out of Costa Rica. He has yet to be sentenced.

In another twist to the Nix case, Scott Sibella, ex-president of Resorts World and MGM Grand, pled guilty in January. Sibella admitted he knew that Nix operated an illegal bookmaking operation. Nix was permitted to gamble at MGM Grand and other properties with money from the illegal operation. MGM Grand and The Cosmopolitan have to pay $7.45M in fines, according to ESPN.

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