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Shohei Ohtani Interpreter Reaches Plea Deal In Sports Betting Case

Mizuhura Faces Years In Prison, Significant Restitution

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Federal prosecutors have reached a plea deal with Ippei Mizuhara, the former interpreter for MLB star Shohei Ohtani, which could see him serving up to 33 years in federal prison.

The 39-year-old pleaded guilty to a pair of felony charges for bank fraud and filing a false tax return. The agreement calls for Mizuhara to pay $17 million in restitution to the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher. The interpreter funneled millions of dollars out of Ohtani’s account for covering thousands of bets made with an illegal bookie.

“I want to emphasize this point: Mr. Ohtani is considered a victim in this case,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in April. “Mr. Mizuhara used and abused that position of trust… in order to plunder Mr. Ohtani’s bank account to the tune of over $16 million.”

Assets Seized, IRS Agreement

Mizuhara is not expected to receive the maximum sentence as part of the plea deal, and likely will serve seven to nine years in prison. A judge in the case will make the final decision on prison terms, however.

Along with prison time and the restitution, Mizuhara must also pay the IRS $1.5 million for failing to report over $4 million in income. The crime first came to light in March when ESPN uncovered details in the case.

Mizuhara was later fired by the Dodgers. The bank fraud scheme ran from November 2021 to March 2024, and included impersonating the baseball player to get the bank to approve large financial transfers.

As part of the deal with authorities, Mizuhara will have assets purchased with the stolen funds seized, including significant baseball memorabilia that included cards featuring Yogi Berra, Juan Soto, and Ohtani.

TV Show In Development

In related news, the entire ordeal is now expected to be featured in a TV series. Deadline reports that Lionsgate Television has tagged Scott Delman and Albert Chen to produce a scripted series based on the scandal.

The show is expected to follow Ohtani’s rise from Japanese baseball to signing the largest sports deal in American history, a 10-year agreement with the Dodgers worth $700 million.

“This is major league baseball’s biggest sports gambling scandal since Pete Rose – and at its center is its biggest star, one that MLB has hitched its wagon on,” Chen said. “We’ll get to the heart of the story – a story of trust, betrayal and the trappings of wealth and fame.”