Celebrity Scandals

Former Interpreter for Shohei Ohtani Pleads Not Guilty in Fraud Case

Main image to the post Former Interpreter for Shohei Ohtani Pleads Not Guilty in Fraud Case

Former Interpreter for Shohei Ohtani Pleads Not Guilty in Fraud Case

Ippei Mizuhara, the former interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani, pleaded not guilty to bank and tax fraud charges on Tuesday. This was a formality ahead of a plea deal he has already negotiated with federal prosecutors.

Prosecutors allege that Mizuhara stole nearly $17 million from Ohtani to pay off sports gambling debts. He allegedly impersonated Ohtani to bankers and exploited their personal and professional relationship. Mizuhara signed a plea agreement detailing the allegations on May 5th.

During his arraignment, Mizuhara entered a not-guilty plea to one count of bank fraud and one count of subscribing to a false tax return. This is 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 plans to plead guilty in the future. He declined to comment further.

There is no evidence that Ohtani was involved in or aware of Mizuhara's gambling. The player is cooperating with investigators.

Mizuhara's plea agreement requires him to pay Ohtani restitution that could total nearly $17 million, as well as more than $1 million to the IRS. He is free on a $25,000 bond and faces a maximum of 30 years in federal prison for the bank fraud charge and up to three years for the false tax return charge.

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

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09