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#pounditFriday, July 12, 2024

MLB issues statement addressing Shohei Ohtani gambling scandal

Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani on the field

March 20, 2024; Seoul, SOUTH KOREA; Los Angeles Dodgers player Shohei Ohtani reacts after playing against the San Diego Padres during a MLB regular season Seoul Series game at Gocheok Sky Dome. Photo Credit: Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters via USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball has issued a statement addressing the stunning gambling scandal that involves Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani.

Federal authorities filed a complaint in a Los Angeles court on Thursday accusing Ippei Mizuhara, Ohtani’s former interpreter, of stealing more than $16 million from Ohtani over a two-year period. Mizuhara allegedly transferred the money to an illegal sportsbook and lied to banks by posing to be Ohtani in order to access the accounts.

Ohtani has been fully exonerated by authorities and is being treated as a victim in the case. MLB views the Dodgers star the same way, as evidenced by the statement the league issued on Thursday.

“We are aware of the charges filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office against Mr. Mizuhara for bank fraud after a thorough federal investigation. According to that investigation, Shohei Ohtani is considered a victim of fraud and there is no evidence that he authorized betting with an illegal bookmaker,” the league said. “Further, the investigation did not find any betting on baseball by Mr. Mizuhara. Given the information disclosed today, and other information we have already collected, we will wait until resolution of the criminal proceeding to determine whether further investigation is warranted.”

As MLB’s statement mentioned, there has also been no evidence presented that Mizuhara bet on baseball games despite racking up a massive gambling debt.

Mizuhara initially said that Ohtani helped him pay off a gambling debt, which is a claim that was backed up by Ohtani’s representatives. Mizuhara then abruptly changed his story to say that he had stolen funds without Ohtani’s knowledge. Investigators have compiled evidence indicating Mizuhara stole much, much more than the $4.5 million that was initially reported.

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