Shohei Ohtani cleared of wrongdoing in interpreter gambling scandal

As Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter pleaded guilty to bank and tax fraud, the MLB superstar himself has been cleared.

Ippei Mizuhara stole nearly $17 million from the Los Angeles Dodgers star, and now faces 33 years in prison.

When the news initially broke in March, there was speculation that Ohtani was involved in either betting or knowingly paying the bookie, but Ohtani maintained his innocence and said he was not aware of Mizuhara’s apparent gambling addiction.


Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani talks with interpreter Ippei Mizuhara during the ninth inning of an opening day game against the San Diego Padres at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Major League Baseball, in its own investigation, cleared Ohtani of any wrongdoing.

“MLB considers Shohei Ohtani a victim of fraud and this matter has been closed,” the league said in a statement. 

Now that the investigation has been completed, this full admission of guilt has brought important closure to me and my family,” Ohtani said in a statement of his own. “I want to sincerely thank the authorities for finishing their thorough and effective investigation so quickly and uncovering all of the evidence.

“This has been a uniquely challenging time, so I am especially grateful for my support team – my family, agent, agency, lawyers, and advisers along with the entire Dodger organization, who showed endless support throughout this process.

“It’s time to close this chapter, move on and continue to focus on playing and winning ballgames.”

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Shohei Ohtani on deck during the Colorado Rockies game at Dodger Stadium on June 1, 2024, in Los Angeles. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Mizuhara entered his guilty plea Tuesday in federal court in Santa Ana, California. He changed his plea from not guilty, which was initially a procedural move. 

“I worked for victim A and had access to his bank account and had fallen into major gambling debt. I went ahead and wired money… with his bank account,” Mizuhara said in a brief statement.

Mizuhara exploited his relationship with Ohtani to steal millions from the player’s account for years and at times even impersonating Ohtani to bankers.

He pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of subscribing to a false tax return as part of a plea agreement. The bank fraud charge carries a maximum of 30 years in federal prison and the false tax return charge carries a sentence of up to three years in federal prison.

He was also ordered to pay Ohtani restitution that could total around $17 million and more than $1 million to the IRS.

The clearing of Ohtani comes as MLB handed down a lifetime ban to Tucupita Marcano for betting over $150,000 on multiple MLB games and one-year suspensions to four other players.

Marcano, 24, is accused of betting on MLB games during his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates last season while he was on the injured list. According to The Associated Press, he was found to have placed 387 baseball bets, including 231 MLB-related wagers, between Oct. 16, 2022, and Nov. 1, 2023, totaling over $150,000. 

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Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani walks to the dugout before a spring training game against the Texas Rangers, Feb. 28, 2024, in Surprise, Arizona. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)


More than 20 of those bets were wagers on Pirates games while he was on the team’s roster, but not games he appeared in. 

Marcano won just 4.3% of all of his MLB-related bets, and none of his parlays in which the Pirates were on the slip.

Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report. 

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