Ohtani’s Former Interpreter Is Said to Be Negotiating a Guilty Plea

Ippei Mizuhara, the former translator for Shohei Ohtani who was fired late last month amid allegations he stole millions of dollars from the baseball star’s bank account to cover debts that Mizuhara owed to an illegal bookmaker, is in negotiations to plead guilty to federal crimes in connection with the purported theft, according to three people briefed on the matter.

The investigation, which began about three weeks ago after news of the alleged theft broke while Ohtani’s team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, was opening its season with two games in South Korea, is rapidly nearing a conclusion, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the inquiry is continuing.

A guilty plea from Mizuhara before a federal judge — likely to include an admission of a range of facts related to any illegal conduct — could confirm the account that Ohtani gave to reporters two weeks ago, in which he said he had no knowledge of what happened to the money.

Those briefed on the matter claim that prosecutors have uncovered evidence that Mizuhara may have stolen more money from Ohtani than the $4.5 million he was initially accused of pilfering, the people said. In particular, the authorities think they have evidence that Mizuhara was able to change the settings on Ohtani’s bank account so Ohtani would not receive alerts and confirmations about transactions, the three people said.

Ohtani’s lawyers initially alerted the federal authorities about the alleged theft, and Ohtani pledged publicly to cooperate with the federal investigation and one being conducted by Major League Baseball. According to one of the people briefed on the investigation, the federal authorities interviewed Ohtani in recent weeks to learn more about his relationship with Mizuhara.

By quickly pleading guilty, Mizuhara would increase his chances of receiving a more lenient sentence, as federal prosecutors and judges often look more favorably upon defendants who make the government’s job easier by expeditiously admitting their guilt.

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