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Ex-interpreter for Dodgers' Ohtani to plead guilty to stealing millions from pitcher

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Prosecutors say an interpreter who worked for Shohei Ohtani will plead guilty to crimes related to the theft of nearly $17 million from the LA Dodgers superstar. Reporter Steve Futterman is in Los Angeles.

STEVE FUTTERMAN: At Dodger Stadium yesterday...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED COMMENTATOR: And the Dodgers sweep the Marlins.

FUTTERMAN: As Shohei Ohtani and the LA Dodgers won their seventh straight game, two miles away, the U.S. attorney in LA announced a plea deal with Ohtani's former interpreter.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARTIN ESTRADA: The evidence shows that for years, this defendant stole money from Shohei Ohtani and did so by abusing his position of trust.

FUTTERMAN: That's U.S. attorney Martin Estrada. From the fall of 2021 through the first months of this year, prosecutors say Ippei Mizuhara repeatedly took money from Ohtani's bank account to pay off his growing gambling debts.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ESTRADA: It had been going on for years. We found evidence that this defendant had essentially taken control of Mr. Ohtani's accounts. We found evidence that this defendant had actually impersonated Mr. Ohtani with the banks by saying he was Mr. Ohtani when they would call to confirm transactions.

FUTTERMAN: The scandal broke into full public view in March, when news reports first surfaced. Ohtani, in a high-profile news conference, speaking through a new interpreter, said he knew nothing about Mizuhara's gambling and never authorized him to take money.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SHOHEI OHTANI: (Through interpreter) Up until a couple days ago, I didn't know that this was happening. Ippei has been stealing money from my account and has told lies.

FUTTERMAN: Prosecutors say Mizuhara initially obtained login details from Ohtani's bank account in 2018. That was Ohtani's first year in the major leagues. Mizuhara is expected to enter his guilty plea next week. The two crimes carry a maximum total penalty of 33 years in prison. Prosecutors will not say what sentence they will recommend.

For NPR News, I'm Steve Futterman in Los Angeles.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Steve Futterman
[Copyright 2024 WYPR - 88.1 FM Baltimore]