Shohei Ohtani's fired former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara is in negotiations to plead guilty to federal crimes over stealing millions of dollars from the Los Angeles Dodgers star to cover debts from illegal gambling on sports, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The investigation into the purported theft by Mizuhara, who was fired by the Dodgers last month, from Ohtani's bank to pay for debts he owed to an illegal bookmaker is rapidly nearing a conclusion, the U.S. newspaper reported, citing three people briefed on the matter.

Mizuhara sent "at least $4.5 million in wire transfers" from Ohtani's bank account to a bookmaker, according to ESPN.

File photo shows Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani (R) and his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara in Glendale, Arizona, on March 5, 2024. (Kyodo) 

Representatives of Ohtani have accused Mizuhara of engaging in a "massive theft" of the player's funds to place bets with the bookmaker, who is a target of federal investigation.

After the scandal surfaced, Ohtani denied involvement in gambling on sports, or in Mizuhara's transfer of the money. He accused Mizuhara of stealing money from his account but did not provide details regarding how he stole it.

The U.S. 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 New York Times reported.

In addition to the federal investigation, Major League Baseball and the Internal Revenue Service have also launched probes into the gambling scandal.

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