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Dodgers Ohtani Investigation Baseball
Ippei Mizuhara Image: AP file
crime

Ex-interpreter for MLB star Shohei Ohtani pleads not guilty to bank and tax fraud

21 Comments
By STEFANIE DAZIO

The former interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani pleaded not guilty Tuesday to bank and tax fraud, a formality ahead of a plea deal he’s negotiated with federal prosecutors in a wide-ranging sports betting case.

Prosecutors say Ippei Mizuhara stole nearly $17 million from Ohtani to pay off sports gambling debts during a yearslong scheme, at times impersonating Ohtani to bankers, and exploited his personal and professional relationship with the two-way player. Mizuhara signed a plea agreement that detailed the allegations on May 5, and prosecutors announced it several days later.

During his arraignment Tuesday in federal court in Los Angeles, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jean P. Rosenbluth asked Mizuhara to enter a plea to one count of bank fraud and one count of subscribing to a false tax return. The expected not-guilty plea was a procedural step as the case moves forward, even though he has already agreed to the plea deal.

Defense attorney Michael G. Freedman said Mizuhara planned to plead guilty in the future. In the hallway before the hearing, Freedman said they would not comment Tuesday.

Members of the media were not allowed inside the main courtroom and instead were seated in an audio-only overflow room. The Associated Press and other outlets filed a complaint with the court clerk and chief district judge.

Mizuhara only spoke to answer the judge’s questions, with responses like “yes, ma’am” when asked whether he understood the proceedings.

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

Mizuhara's plea agreement says he will be required to pay Ohtani restitution that could total nearly $17 million, as well as more than $1 million to the IRS. Those amounts could change prior to sentencing. The bank fraud charge carries a maximum of 30 years in federal prison, and the false tax return charge carries a sentence of up to three years in federal prison.

Mizuhara’s winning bets totaled over $142 million, which he deposited in his own bank account and not Ohtani’s. But his losing bets were around $183 million, a net loss of nearly $41 million. He did not wager on baseball.

He is free on an unsecured $25,000 bond, colloquially known as a signature bond, meaning he did not have to put up any cash or collateral to be freed. If he violates the bond conditions — which include a requirement to undergo gambling addiction treatment — he will be on the hook for $25,000.

The judge set a status conference for June 14.

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

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

Ohtani has sought to focus on the field as the case winds through the courts. Hours after his ex-interpreter first appeared in court in April, he hit his 175th home run in MLB — tying Hideki Matsui for the most by a Japan-born player — during the Dodgers’ 8-7 loss to the San Diego Padres in 11 innings.

© Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.


21 Comments
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I thought that if you have a net loss it can be claimed in your tax return to lower your taxes. In absence of any other income activity, would not that make him exempt from any IRS penalties or obligations? If he has no source of income, what benefit will the IRS get from him other than sending him to jail at taxpayer’s costs,(or printing machines), and then getting deported later on?

One thing for Sure, uncontrolled gambling leads to nothing good.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

My guess is that he will do some time in federal prison, but that it will be much less than the maximum if he can help the prosecutors bring down the bookie. Then probably we see him on netflix ("In the shadow of Ohtani" or some such thing) and perhaps he actually pays some of the money back.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Ohtani has sought to focus on the field 

I hope the media leave Ohtani-senshu alone, let him focus on winning the triple crown (leader in batting average, home runs and runs batted in), while healing his pitching arm.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

A Japanese commentator had an article a month or so ago saying that Mizuhara's replies must have annoyed the judge. He usually just answered 'yes'. Apparently it's conventional to say 'Yes, sir.' 'Yes, ma'am.' 'Yes. Judge.'

Brownie points for 'Yes, your honor.'

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I hope the media leave Ohtani-senshu alone, let him focus on winning the triple crown (leader in batting average, home runs and runs batted in),

Pretty sure Ohtani's focus is on winning the National League and World Series with the Dodgers. Any personal achievements along the way are very much a secondary focus for him.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

If he violates the bond conditions — which include a requirement to undergo gambling addiction treatment — he will be on the hook for $25,000.

25K is nothing compared to the 17mil he will owe in restitution.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The folks who assigned Mizuhara to Ohtani as an interpreter must bear some responsibility. The Dodgers mustn't be allowed to dodge their share of the scandal: if they are in any way to blame, they should step up to the plate to compensate Ohtani for his losses.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

I thought he was pleading guilty. If not, good luck trying to beat the charges.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

$148 million in winnings?! That's the Major League of gambling.

Mizuhara fell deep into the world of gambling, losing everything from friends to career, and even messing with Ohtani's success. But he keeps thinking, "One more big win, and everything's fixed."

It's a common trap, the addiction's promise of a quick fix blinding him to reality. It's sad how Mizuhara's struggles are affecting not just him but also the reputation of one of (if not the) greatest baseball players of all time.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

What about embezzlement or misappropriation of funds? Yes, bank fraud was involved. But, it was used as the means in which to embezzle/misappropriate the funds from Ohtani. They were not the bank's funds. They were Ohtani's.

Also, if his lawyer brokered a plea deal, shouldn't he have pled guilty as part of the deal? Weird that the formality of the deal involves pleading not guilty, first.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Mizuhara’s winning bets totaled over $142 million, which he deposited in his own bank account and not Ohtani’s. But his losing bets were around $183 million, a net loss of nearly $41 million. He did not wager on baseball.

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, this if proven Ippei Mizuhara has the mother of all gambling addictions.

There is just one crinkle, Ohtani accountants auditors had to have been altered aware.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Sounds ike the DT playbook.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

If this is merely a procedural not-guilty that is meaningless in itself, since it will be followed by an admission of guilt at a more important stage, the headline of "pleads not guilty to bank and tax fraud" is misleading and will deceive anyone who does not click on the story to read the details.

Headlines should summarize stories. The headline here should be "Mizutani accepts plea deal".

5 ( +7 / -2 )

This guy is a total loser. He probably had one of the best jobs in the world. Maybe his yearly salary wasn't all that high, but the perks would be unbeatable.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Hopefully the prison barber can fix that dodgy haircut

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Anyone know how to reconcile the $41mm of net losses with the $17mm he allegedly stole from Otani? Unlikely Ippei paid that $24mm difference out of his own pocket given his salary was like $70k per year. I have yet to see this difference explained anywhere.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

masterblaster

This guy is a total loser. He probably had one of the best jobs in the world. Maybe his yearly salary wasn't all that high, but the perks would be unbeatable.

His salary was quite high, from what I've read. He killed a golden goose because of his gambling problem.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Goals0 The Japanese commentator is just that!! If he ever been in a court in the US and understands the judicial system all one can say is YES or NO!! The reason being is ANYTHING YOU SAY CAN BE USED AGAINST YOU IN THE COURT OF LAW" I am sure his attorney told him to answer that way. It is no different when Japanese show up and bow would you say that act is asking for forgiveness? Is that a brownie point gesture? You don't have to say Yes, sir.' 'Yes, ma'am.' He is perhaps a city boy and not a country boy!

A Japanese commentator had an article a month or so ago saying that Mizuhara's replies must have annoyed the judge. He usually just answered 'yes'. Apparently it's conventional to say 'Yes, sir.' 'Yes, ma'am.' 'Yes. Judge.' Brownie points for 'Yes, your honor.'

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Trying to get a plea bargain with the feds is like trying to pull teeth from a lions mouth. The feds know they have this case wrapped up. Ippe attorney wants to get on with the trial, this is why he is cooperating in trying to get a rush to get him a lower sentence. The feds don't have to give him anything they KNOW they have this case, and the bookie who they wants to sing, Ippei is a small fish. They always go after the big fish, Ippei is worthless to them, the feds want to follow the money trail and that is get to the top of the chain where the bookie takes his orders from. If ANYTHING the feds would probably drop the lessor charge, which was the false tax return because many Americans do this and they get a slap on the risk, but the bank fraud charge they will try to get him for the maximum 30 years in federal prison, federal time and state time is different in federal prison you do every day, in state prison for every one day you due 2 days. I can't see Ippei getting the lighter three years in federal prison sentence. If that happens everyone got paid part of Ohtani 17 million that would include the attorneys and the judge!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

With a haircut like that, he has to be guilty of something, if no more than awful fashion sense.

Seriously, he deserves his day in court if he so chooses, but if knows he is guilty he is better off confessing and making a deal now, rather than getting sentenced after losing in court.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Guy is playing it smart. Get caught but never, EVER, admit to tax crimes. You’ll get a bigger sentence than murdering

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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