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Shohei Ohtani set to speak Monday as theft allegations against his interpreter spur investigation

Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter fired amid accusations of ‘massive theft’
CNNLos Angeles Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani is expected to address the media Monday as Major League Baseball investigates allegations of theft against his former interpreter.

“I’m happy he’s going to speak – speak to what he knows and give his thoughts on the whole situation,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters Sunday. “I think it’ll give us a little bit more clarity.”

Roberts spoke before the Dodgers’ 5-3 victory over Ohtani’s former team, the Los Angeles Angels. The teams face off again Monday at Dodger Stadium.

Ohtani’s longtime Japanese interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, was fired after Ohtani’s lawyers accused him of “massive theft” of millions of dollars and placing bets with a bookmaker under federal investigation, according to ESPN and the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the story.

The scandal has overshadowed the start of MLB’s new season, challenged the public’s understanding of one of baseball’s biggest stars, and brought renewed scrutiny to professional sports’ closeness with gambling.

An attorney for Mathew Bowyer, the former bookmaker under federal investigation related to gambling, said he never met or had “any direct contact” with Ohtani but did do business with Mizuhara.

“Mathew Bowyer never spoke with or emailed with or texted with or had any contact whatsoever with Shohei Ohtani,” the attorney, Diane Bass told CNN in an on-camera interview on Saturday.

The attorney also said Ohtani’s interpreter never bet on baseball.

The MLB and the Internal Revenue Service are separately investigating the interpreter.

“Major League Baseball has been gathering information since we learned about the allegations involving Shohei Ohtani and Ippei Mizuhara from the news media,” the league said in a news release last week. “Earlier today, our Department of Investigations began their formal process investigating the matter.”

The IRS Criminal Investigation Los Angeles Field Office is investigating both Mizuhara and Bowyer, IRS spokesman Scott Villiard told CNN on Friday. Bowyer is a California resident who bankruptcy court documents show had gambling debts of $425,000 more than a decade ago.

Ohtani and Mizuhara first worked together from 2013 to 2017 when Mizuhara served as a translator for the Nippon-Ham Fighters, Ohtani’s team with Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball League, according to When Ohtani joined the Los Angeles Angels in 2018, he asked Mizuhara to join him as his translator in his rookie season, and Mizuhara eventually followed the star to the Dodgers, CNN previously reported.

ESPN’s Tisha Thompson, citing multiple unnamed sources, said on CNN’s “The Lead” Wednesday at least $4.5 million was withdrawn via wire transfer from Ohtani’s bank accounts, though it is unclear who initiated the transfers.

CNN has sought comment from Mizuhara and Ohtani’s agent. Ohtani’s attorneys have not detailed how they believe the funds were stolen, fueling questions about the scandal that emerged as Ohtani made his much-anticipated debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Bookie’s attorney speaks to CNN

Bass, Bowyer’s attorney, told CNN that her client dealt with Ippei Mizuhara.

When discussing Ohtani’s name on “one of the wire transfers to Bowyer’s organization to cover a bet,” Bass said Saturday, “as far as Mr. Bowyer understood, the bet was from Ippei, or it was being covered by Mr. Ohtani for Ippei.”

Bass emphasized that while Bowyer is under federal investigation, he has not been charged with a crime. She said Bowyer stopped his bookmaking operation in October 2023 when “feds showed up at his house.”

Bowyer met Mizuhara after a Padres game in San Diego in 2022, according to Bass. She told CNN she does not know how often Mizuhara placed bets or how much he bet, but said Bowyer told her that Mizuhara placed bets regularly on “primarily soccer, occasionally football and basketball, but it was never baseball.”

Mizuhara told ESPN on Tuesday, “I never bet on baseball …That’s 100 percent. I knew that rule. … We have a meeting about that in spring training.”

Bass said Mizuhara’s gambling “got out of hand at a certain point,” but that “he was making regular payments for a significant amount of time.”

Asked if the payments were coming from Mizuhara’s or Ohtani’s account, Bass replied, “I honestly don’t know how many transfers came from which account(s), (or) whether it was more than one account. I don’t have access to that information,” she told CNN.

Shifting explanations and statements

The saga began with reporters asking questions about alleged wire transfers from Ohtani’s bank account. Here’s how the scandal unfolded:

• Mizuhara told ESPN in a Tuesday interview, arranged by Ohtani’s representative, that he asked Ohtani last year to pay off his gambling debt, ESPN reported. Ohtani had no involvement in his betting, Mizuhara said.

• But after the interview, Ohtani’s spokesperson “disavowed” Mizuhara’s account, then released a statement saying Ohtani had been the victim of theft.

• On the same day, Mizuhara was seen smiling in the LA dugout and talking to Ohtani before translating for the star in the team’s 5-2 win over the San Diego Padres in the MLB season-opening game in Seoul, South Korea, on Wednesday.

• Later Wednesday, Mizuhara was fired as Ohtani’s interpreter.

 After learning about the allegations against Ohtani and Mizuhara, MLB on Friday announced it would be pursuing an investigation. The IRS also confirmed it was investigating the translator.

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