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Shohei Ohtani's translator pleads guilty to stealing nearly $17 million from baseball star

According to the DOJ, Ippei Mizuhara used the money to pay off his gambling debts.

Shohei Ohtani en las prácticas de la MLB | AFP

Shohei Ohtani en las prácticas de la MLB | AFP

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Ippei Mizuhara, a 39-year-old translator, pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges for illegally transferring nearly $17 million from Shohei Ohtani’s bank account without the MLB player's knowledge or permission. According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), Mizuhara used the money to pay off his gambling debts.

The prosecution explained, in statements collected by AFP, that Mizuhara pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of filing a false tax return. The law stipulates penalties of up to 30 years in prison for the first of these charges and up to three years for the second. District Judge John Holcomb plans to hand down the sentence on October 24.

"Ippei Mizuhara, 39, of Newport Beach, has agreed to plead guilty to one count of bank fraud, which carries a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison, and one count of submitting a false tax return, which carries a sentence of up to three years in federal prison," the Justice Department announced last month.

"The extent of this defendant’s deception and theft is massive. He took advantage of his position of trust to take advantage of Mr. Ohtani and fuel a dangerous gambling habit. My office is committed to vindicating victims throughout our community and ensuring that wrongdoers face justice,” explained U.S. Attorney Martín Estrada.

According to his plea agreement, Mizuhara was Ohtani's translator and manager. As part of his job, Mizuhara regularly interacted with Ohtani's non-Japanese-speaking sports agents and financial advisors on behalf of Ohtani, who does not speak English.