Los Angeles Dodgers Fire Shohei Ohtani’s Long-Time Intrepeter Following Alleged Illegal Gambling and Theft of Millions from MLB’s Biggest Star

Ippei Mizuhara, 39, interpreter and close friend of Japanese baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani, has been accused of illegal gambling and allegedly stealing millions from the two-way hitter to pay gambling debts.

Mizuhara was fired by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday after the Los Angeles Times and ESPN reported on the translator’s purported ties to an alleged illegal bookmaker, Matthew Bowyer of Orange County, California. 

Violation of California laws:

Ohtani just made his Dodgers debut in Seoul, South Korea, while Mizuhara was in Los Angeles, and the chat between Ohtani and Mizuhara has drawn suspicion.  A statement from West Hollywood, CA law firm, Berk Brettler LLP, reportedly read: “In the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft and we are turning the matter over to the authorities.” 

The issue is even bigger considering sports gambling is prohibited in the state of California.

Mizuhara and Ohtani first met in 2013, when the former was hired by the Japanese professional baseball team, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, to translate for the team’s English-speaking players. Ohtani joined the Kitahiroshima, Hokkaidō-based team that same year. 

Four years later, Ohatani came to the U.S., signing with lodivip the Los Angeles Angels in 2017 and hiring Mizuhara to be the two-way star’s personal interpreter. Fast forward to December 2023, the Dodgers and Ohtani agree to a record-breaking 10-year, $700-million contract, and at the same time, Mizuhara was hired by the ball club.

Mizuhara’s sports career dates back to 2007, when he was hired as an interpreter by the Boston Red Sox.

The Dodgers were relatively tight-lipped regarding the recent events, only stating that they were “aware of media reports and are gathering information. And that…

“The team can confirm that interpreter Ippei Mizuhara has been terminated,” read the statement. “The team has no further comment at this time,” as reported by the Associated Press (AP).

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The news agency further reports that Mizuhara stated that he placed bets on international soccer, the NBA, the NFL, and college football. According to MLB regulations, the team members aren’t allowed to place bets on basketball and other sports through illegal and offshore bookmakers.

Mizuhara reportedly said: “I never bet on baseball. That’s 100%. I knew that rule … We have a meeting about that in spring training.”

Mizuhara admission:

On Tuesday, March 19, Mizuhara said Ohtani had paid out his gambling debts. However, after the doubt that the player was a victim of theft was raised, the interpreter said that Ohtani didn’t know about any debts. He admitted that he made more than $1 million in debt by the end of 2022, and the losses further increased in the upcoming period.

He said: “I’m terrible (at gambling). Never going to do it again. Never won any money. I mean, I dug myself a hole and it kept on getting bigger, and it meant I had to bet bigger to get out of it and just kept on losing. It’s like a snowball effect.”

A similar thing happened in 1989 when the famous Pete Rose got a lifetime ban because of betting on the Cincinnati Reds while he was a manager and a player on the team. After that, the MLB agreed to prohibit all team members from gambling on baseball and other sports through illegal and offshore bookmakers.

If the members are caught betting on baseball, they risk a one-year ban. However, if they place their bets on other sports, it’s up to the commissioner.

Ohtani has become popular in the baseball world even though he isn’t very present in the media. However, he won’t be a Dodgers’ pitcher during the upcoming season, since he’s still recovering from surgery on his right elbow. However, he might be able to play in the field as a designated hitter.

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