Shohei Ohtani’s long time interpreter strikes out after foul sports gambling scandal breaks

By Jaime Getto
May 8, 2024
Shohei Ohtani’s long time interpreter strikes out after foul sports gambling scandal breaks

Dodgers superstar pitcher and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani is making headlines beyond the bounds of his legendary baseball skills. After seven years of working together, his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, is in hot water after a sports gambling scandal and massive theft was exposed, with funds stolen directly from Ohtani and wired to a suspected illegal bookkeeper.

Ohtani, who is known to be very private, met Mizuhara while playing for the Nippon-Ham Fighters. They began working together when Ohtani, lovingly nicknamed “Shotime” by fans, was signed by the Los Angeles Angels. He continued to serve as his English language interpreter when Ohtani joined the Dodgers and the two soon became inseparable. Over time they developed a personal friendship. They could be seen driving to the field together, Mizuhara picking up groceries for Ohtani when he was injured, and their wives forming a relationship on a recent trip to South Korea. 

Trust is like a house of cards, built slowly and carefully over time and obliterated with one hasty move.  Mizuhara allegedly stole funds from Ohtani to the tune of $4.5 million dollars which he used to participate in illegal sports gambling with a bookmaking operation run by Orange County resident, Matthew Bower. Bower is currently under a federal investigation after his home was raided last year.  Mizuhara initially claimed Ohtani was aware of his gambling and turned to Ohtani to bail him out of debt, borrowing money from Ohtani under the stipulation he would stop gambling. He later changed his story and denied Ohtani’s involvement, claiming the funds from Ohtani were stolen by Mizuhara outright and without Ohtani’s knowledge.

According to a source, Mizuhara wired at least nine payments of $500,000 from Ohtani’s account to an employee of Bower in order to place bets. The MLB stands firm on their regulations around gambling. All Major League players, officials, umpires, and employees are prohibited from placing bets on baseball games. And while they can technically gamble on other sports, they are not permitted to do so with illegal bookkeepers.  

So far the MLB has stood by their star, who apparently was unaware of Mizuhara’s illegal activity, the victim of this massive theft at the hands of his trusted interpreter. Mizuhara has been terminated from his position, the matter has been turned over to authorities, and the MLB has launched a formal investigation. However this could have all been avoided had proper due diligence been in place, protecting both Ohtani’s funds and the MLB’s reputation. 

How Intelligo’s careful vetting and due diligence could have spotted red flags from Mizuhara’s past 

Intelligo is the shield that safeguards your organization from risk, ensuring each employee and partner is constantly vetted and investigated, protecting you from fraud, shady pasts, and dodgy dealings. Had Ohtani put his trust in Intelligo rather than his gut, he would have been protected from Mizuhara’s theft and the threat to his sterling reputation as one of the greatest athletes of our time. According to his public biography, Mizuhara attended college at the University of California, Riverside, graduating in 2007 and was employed by the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox as Japanese pitcher Hideki Okajima’s interpreter. However, under the recent scrutiny of these allegations, it has come to light that these claims are false. Intelligo would have revealed these red flags, indicating a potentially problematic candidate for employment to both Ohtani and the MLB. Any inconsistencies in narrative are flagged thanks to our well oiled vetting system, alerting our clients of possible gaps in character and preventing future incidents that could damage their business. 

Who you employ and partner with can make or break your reputation and crack the solid foundation from which your business was built. Intelligo preserves the integrity of your organization from the inside out, using AI technology combined with human experts to perform background checks and continuous monitoring on the people representing you. Sign up for a demo today to detect any negligence hiding amongst your ranks and treat your business to the peace of mind that comes with Intelligo’s fastest, most comprehensive individual and company background checks. 

Background checks tailored to your business needs.

Companies of all sizes, from boutique investment firms to global asset allocators, use Intelligo for all their background check and continuous monitoring needs.

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