Ohtani's former interpreter pleads guilty to bank fraud, tax charges

The former interpreter for Japanese Major League Baseball player Ohtani Shohei has admitted to stealing tens of millions of dollars from the star to pay for years of gambling losses.

Mizuhara Ippei appeared on Tuesday at a federal court in Santa Ana, California, where he pleaded guilty to charges of bank fraud and filing a false tax return.

The judge instructed Mizuhara to explain the charges in his own words.

He said that he fell into "major gambling debt, and the only way that he could think of was" to use the money in Ohtani's bank account, which he had access to.

Prosecutors say Mizuhara began betting on sports in 2021 through an illegal bookmaker. They say he ended up stealing nearly 17 million dollars.

They say there is no evidence that Ohtani was involved in, or even aware of, the gambling.

Mizuhara faces up to 33 years in prison. However, he reached a plea agreement last month with federal prosecutors. The sentence will likely be greatly reduced. Sentencing is scheduled for October 25.