Shohei Ohtani’s ex-translator, Ippei Mizuhara, reportedly negotiating guilty plea regarding alleged theft

(Via @Dodgers)

Shohei Ohtani‘s former long-time translator Ippei Mizuhara is negotiating a guilty plea with federal investigators stemming from the alleged theft perpetrated by him against Ohtani, according to a report from the New York Times that was first reported by TMZ.

The report says the investigation began three weeks ago when the initial allegations against Mizuhara were made by Ohtani, and it cites three people briefed on the matter, who remain anonymous due to the ongoing nature of the proceedings. They all say what investigators found backs Ohtani’s version of events — no matter how things played out publicly and all the skepticism that followed — and seem to answer many of the questions of how it happened.

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.

So while the $4.5 million sum that Mizuhara allegedly stole seemed unrealistic to people, it turns out that investigation revealed he apparently stole even more. One of the sources says federal authorities interviewed Ohtani “in recent weeks”, and that the investigation into the matter has been a joint effort by the IRS, Homeland Security, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

As far as Mizuhara goes, the report mentions that upon returning to America from South Korea he was stopped by law enforcement, and that his incentive to plead guilty is reportedly to increase the chances of a lenient sentence.

A lot of the skepticism out there essentially revolved around how Ohtani and the people that surrounded him could’ve possibly let his version of the events happen, but it reportedly basically came down to Ippei just lying all the time and everything apparently went through him.

But as he and his new teammates were preparing for their opening games, reporters began asking about suspicious wire transfers from Ohtani’s account that had surfaced in a federal investigation of an alleged bookmaker. Rather than inform Ohtani personally, the superstar’s agent and Mizuhara tried to manage the crisis themselves.

Not the best look for CAA, either.

A report by investigative reporters at ESPN (who broke this story initially) confirmed the NYT report, with a source of theirs saying that Ohtani’s version of things were accurate.

A source with direct knowledge of the investigation told ESPN late Wednesday that Ohtani’s claims were accurate.

While the investigation is still ongoing — and granted, Ohtani has done an amazing job of compartmentalizing this so far — hopefully this development and it being public will take some weight off his shoulders. I’d also hope that people would consider turning their focus towards the kind of personal toll this kind of betrayal might’ve taken on Ohtani, but if I know people, they probably won’t.

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"A highly rational Internet troll." - Los Angeles Times