Ippei Mizuhara, formerly the interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani, attended a court hearing on Tuesday over two charges including bank fraud in connection with the unauthorized use of nearly $17 million of the baseball player's money.

According to a U.S. Justice Department official, Mizuhara, 39, came to the court for a judicial procedure and is expected to enter a plea in the next hearing.

The Attorney's Office for the Central District of California said Mizuhara agreed to plead guilty to the charges after making his first appearance at the district court in Los Angeles on April 12.

Ippei Mizuhara, the former interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani, is surrounded by members of the media in Los Angeles on May 14, 2024, after attending a court hearing over two charges including bank fraud in connection with the unauthorized use of nearly $17 million of the baseball player's money. (Kyodo)

Following Tuesday's session, during which Mizuhara completed a procedural step ahead of the next hearing, he was besieged by reporters, photographers and TV crews, but kept silent while walking to his vehicle.

After he enters a plea, the court will hand down a sentence in a later session, which the official indicated could take place months from now.

Mizuhara is alleged to have stolen $16.98 million from one of Ohtani's accounts from November 2021 to March this year to cover gambling debts and other personal expenses.

Some $16.59 million of the total amount misappropriated was used to pay gambling debts, with Mizuhara calling the bank and impersonating Ohtani on approximately 24 occasions to facilitate his crimes, the attorney's office said.

Additionally, he took $325,000 from the account between January and March to buy baseball cards featuring Ohtani and other players, expecting to resell them in the future, the office said.

Mizuhara is also alleged to have pocketed a $60,000 check he asked Ohtani to write out, saying he needed it for dental work. The two-way player agreed, but Mizuhara then paid the dentist fee from Ohtani's bank account while using the check for his own personal spending.

Ohtani's salary from playing professional baseball was deposited into the account, which he opened as a Los Angeles Angels player with Mizuhara's help in March 2018 after they came to the United States. Ohtani played for the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan and Mizuhara worked as an interpreter for the club.

Mizuhara later allegedly changed the contact information on the player's account to link it to his own phone number and email address.

As for the second charge, the former interpreter is accused of submitting a false tax return for 2022, failing to report the $4.1 million he took that year from Ohtani's account.

U.S. media reported Mizuhara could face up to 33 years in prison, but the attorney's office said it will recommend a reduction of the term.

The theft allegations emerged through media reports while the Dodgers were on a trip to Seoul in March that included a pair of season-opening games against the San Diego Padres. Mizuhara was fired by the Dodgers following the revelation.

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