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Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter fired amid accusations of ‘massive theft’

Kyodo News/Getty Images via CNN Newsource

Originally Published: 20 MAR 24 22:23 ET Updated: 21 MAR 24 08:54 ET By Jacob Lev, CNN

(CNN) — The longtime interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani was fired Wednesday after being accused by Ohtani’s attorneys of “massive theft” that the attorneys allege is tied to gambling, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Ohtani’s legal team accused former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara of stealing millions of dollars and placing bets with a bookmaker under federal investigation, according to the newspaper and ESPN. The details were first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

“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,” Ohtani’s law firm, Berk Brettler LLP, told CNN.

The Dodgers “can confirm that interpreter Ippei Mizuhara has been terminated,” the Dodgers said in a release.

The Dodgers also are “aware of media reports and are gathering information.” The team added it had no further comment.

It’s unclear how the interpreterallegedlystole the money.

A complicated story

However, the “massive theft” wasn’t originally referenced as such by the parties involved.

According to ESPN, Ohtani’s spokesman initially told the outlet that the Japanese superstar was covering the gambling debts of his longtime friend and interpreter.

Additionally, in an interview with ESPN on Tuesday, Mizuhara originally said wire transfers from Ohtani’s bank account to an alleged bookmaking operation were to cover his losses, but that Ohtani had zero involvement in the betting. According to ESPN, Mizuhara said he didn’t know his gambling was illegal and that, despite being unhappy about the situation, Ohtani agreed to pay the debts.

However, as ESPN was getting ready to publish its story Wednesday, Ohtani’s lawyers released the statement saying he was a victim of theft.

On Wednesday, Mizuhara then walked back on much he had previously told ESPN, saying Ohtani had no knowledge or involvement in the gambling activities, or his efforts to repay the debt.

Mizuhara was seen smiling in the LA dugout and was 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. The Dodgers then fired Mizuhara once the story came out.

Mizuhara and Ohtani worked together from 2013 to 2017 at Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball League team Nippon-Ham Fighters, where Mizuhara worked as an interpreter for non-Japanese speaking players, according to After Ohtani asked Mizuhara to join him in Los Angeles, Mizuhara became Ohtani’s interpreter in his rookie season with his former team, the Los Angeles Angels, in 2018.

The 29-year-old two-time American League MVP signed a historic 10-year, $700 million deal with the Dodgers this past offseason.

CNN has sought comment from Ohtani’s agent, further comment from the Dodgers and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, but did not immediately hear back.

MLB had no comment to CNN on the issue as of Thursday morning. CNN has also sought comment from Mizuhara.

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