Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy asserts that Shohei Ohtani was fully aware of his interpreter’s gambling addiction

Amidst the legal entanglements surrounding Ippei Mizuhara, once the interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers’ sensation Shohei Ohtani, lingering doubts persist about the extent of the two-way baseball star’s awareness regarding Mizuhara’s gambling scandal before its public eruption.

Prior to the onset of the 2024 regular season, Ohtani convened a press conference sans media inquiries, vehemently denying any engagement in sports betting and dismissing Mizuhara’s assertions of his voluntary compensation for a substantial gambling debt as baseless.

However, Tim Donaghy, the disgraced former NBA referee who served prison time for wagering on games he officiated during the early 2000s, remains skeptical of Ohtani’s purported ignorance. In an appearance on OutKick’s “Hot Mic,” Donaghy dismissed the notion that Ohtani was unaware, asserting Major League Baseball’s prudent hastening to quash the scandal to safeguard Ohtani’s global baseball legacy and fan following.

Donaghy further cast doubt on Mizuhara’s claims of abstaining from baseball betting, citing investigative findings of approximately 19,000 wagers placed between December 2021 and January 2024, averaging 25 bets daily with stakes ranging from $10 to $160,000 per bet.

“I think absolutely,” Donaghy affirmed when pressed about Mizuhara’s involvement in baseball betting. “There’s no doubt in my mind that he not only bet on baseball, he bet on Ohtani’s game, and I think Ohtani was right there with him knowing what he was doing.”

Both MLB and Ohtani’s agent, Nez Balelo, remained silent in response to Donaghy’s allegations.

Pete Rose, MLB’s hits leader with a notorious gambling history, echoed suspicions about Ohtani’s complicity, jesting about his own past in a social media post shortly after the scandal broke.

Mizuhara is poised to plead guilty to charges of bank fraud and tax evasion, as per the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, with anticipations of entering the plea in the ensuing weeks.

U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada condemned Mizuhara’s deceitful actions, characterizing his exploitation of Ohtani’s trust to fuel a destructive gambling addiction as extensive. Estrada emphasized Mizuhara’s significant role in Ohtani’s life, facilitating access to his finances to finance his illicit gambling habits.

In the course of the investigation, federal authorities uncovered Mizuhara’s embezzlement of an estimated $17 million, a sum he is obligated to reimburse Ohtani as part of the plea agreement.

Ohtani reiterated his innocence through a new interpreter prior to the Dodgers’ final spring training game, vehemently denying any involvement in sports betting and affirming his adherence to fair play.

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