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Ex-Ohtani interpreter Mizuhara out on bond in illegal wagering case


Ippei Mizuhara, the Japanese-language interpreter who formerly worked closely with Los Angeles Angels and Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani and is accused of stealing $16m to cover gambling debt, appeared in federal court on Friday (12 April) and was released on $25,000 bond.

According to a tweet from The Athletic’s Sam Blum, Mizuhara was shackled entering court.

The interpreter is being charged with federal bank fraud, which carries a penalty of up to 30 years in prison. His arraignment in the illegal wagering case is scheduled for 9 May.

Late on Thursday (11 April) Mizuhara turned himself into federal authorities, according to the US Attorney’s office. According to an affidavit filed on Thursday, Mizuhara stole from Ohtani to pay off debts he incurred betting with an illegal bookmaker in Orange County, California. Sports betting is illegal in California.

During the two-year ordeal, Mizuhara bet hundreds of millions of dollars. He also systematically transferred access to Ohtani’s accounts from the ballplayer to himself.

US Attorney Martin Estrada said during a press conference on Thursday that Ohtani has fully cooperated with authorities and is considered a victim in this case.

Mizuhara required to begin gambling addiction programme

Mizuhara appeared before United States Magistrate Judge Maria A Audero on Friday (12 April) and did not enter a plea in the illegal wagering case. He is required to begin a programme for gambling addiction, cannot contact Ohtani and has restrictions on his movements, according to Blum, who was at the courthouse in Los Angeles.

According to the affidavit, once Mizuhara began gambling in September 2021, his addiction escalated quickly. He repeatedly referred to himself as a bad gambler, but also continued to ask for additional credit from his bookmaker.

The interpreter’s bookmaker is linked to a comprehensive federal investigation. That investigation includes former minor league baseball player Wayne Nix, MGM and former Los Angeles Dodger Yasiel Puig, who pled guilty for lying to federal agents.

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