“Did you lie to me?” “Yes, I did”

Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara’s “gambling scandal” is rocking Major League Baseball. Mizuhara’s retraction of his confessional interview has emerged as the centerpiece of the case. ESPN came across Ohtani’s name while conducting an investigation into Matthew Bowyer, who was under investigation by U.S. law enforcement for running an illegal sports betting operation. Multiple sources and bank records reviewed by ESPN confirmed that money was transferred from a bank account in Ohtani’s name to an associate of Bowyer’s in September and October of last year.

Multiple sources told ESPN:

“Ohtani does not gamble. The funds were used to pay off Mizuhara’s gambling debts,” multiple sources told ESPN. Scott Billiard, a spokesman for the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, also confirmed to ESPN on Feb. 22 that the agency is “currently investigating Mizuhara and Bowyer.”

A source told ESPN, “Bowyer said he knew the name of the sender (Otani) but decided not to ask any questions as long as the money was coming in. But in order to expand his business, he allowed himself to believe that Ohtani was his client.”

Diane Bass, his defense attorney, told ESPN, “Mr. Weir never met or spoke to Shohei Otani.”

The amount of money that was transferred from Ohtani’s bank account to the accounts of his associates (or, more accurately, to accounts in the names of his associates) was reportedly $4.5 million.

At the center of the current controversy is an interview that ESPN conducted with Mizuhara himself shortly before it first reported the incident. Ohtani and Mizuhara were in Seoul, South Korea, preparing for the opening round of the World Series.

ESPN reporter Tisha Thompson spoke with Mizuhara by phone for nearly 90 minutes on the morning of the 20th. The Dodgers played their opening game against the San Diego Padres at Gocheok Sky Dome.

The Dodgers departed for Gocheok Dome at 2:30 p.m. from a hotel in Yeouido.

A few hours before departure, on the morning of the 20th, Mizuhara and Thompson had a phone interview. During the call, Mizuhara told the reporter that Ohtani also knew about his gambling debts, stating, “He told me never to gamble again, and he logged into his bank account and wired me $500,000 in multiple instances in front of me. 안전놀이터 추천 (Ohtani wired the money himself) because he doesn’t trust me with his money. He has never been involved in gambling, and I regret what I did,” he confessed.

ESPN was preparing a news report based on the call with Mizuhara.

But before ESPN’s story was published, there was a twist. Shortly after the opening game against San Diego, Mizuhara apologized publicly in front of the Dodgers’ players, saying, “I am a gambling addict, and I think there will be news about it soon,” and the team fired him. Shortly thereafter, Otani’s defense attorney released a statement saying he was “victimized by Mizuhara in a massive theft.”

Mizuhara has since changed his tune. He completely changed his story from “Ohtani himself sent money to pay off his gambling debts” to “Ohtani sent money to pay off his gambling debts”. Otani’s defense lawyer said, “Otani had no knowledge of the gambling, and that Mizuhara had stolen a large amount of money from his account.

On Feb. 22, Japan’s FNN published details of an interview with ESPN’s Thompson.

Thompson told FNN: “After Mizuhara changed his story, I called him back. I asked him, ‘What happened?’ He said, ‘The first interview wasn’t true,’ but he wouldn’t elaborate. So I asked him, ‘Were you lying to me?’ He said, ‘Yes,'” Thompson said.

“Otani knew about my gambling debt, and he told me not to gamble again, but instead sent me money to pay off the debt. I promised to pay him back,” Mizuhara’s testimony changed just hours later to “Ohtani knew nothing about it.

“When Mizuhara confessed to gambling to Dodgers players in the clubhouse after the opening game, that’s when Ohtani first realized what was going on and started asking questions,” a Dodgers team official said. Ohtani’s defense attorneys agree. Ohtani was completely unaware.

But the U.S. media is saying that it’s impossible for him to have been unaware of the hundreds of thousands of dollars that were transferred from his account. Ohtani’s defense lawyers had Mizuhara change his story because he could face severe disciplinary action if he got it wrong.

The LA Times, CBS Sports, and other U.S. media reported on the Mizuhara scandal in detail on the 22nd, stating that “Ohtani could face federal penalties if he lent the money knowing it was to pay off an illegal gambling debt.”

This means that by lending and wiring money with the knowledge that it was an illegal gambling debt,

Ohtani could be considered aiding and abetting an illegal gambling operation. California makes it illegal, and MLB’s commissioner’s office suspends players and team employees for at least a year and, in some cases, permanently.

Given the circumstances, it’s highly unlikely that Ohtani was directly involved in illegal gambling. However, even if he was trying to help his “friend” Mizuhara in good faith, it’s clear that he was caught between a rock and a hard place.

Ohtani hasn’t spoken directly since Mizuhara’s firing. He showed up at Gocheok Dome on the 21st, but didn’t show up at all when the clubhouse was open before the game. He played the game normally, getting a hit and an RBI. However, after the game, he only said “thank you” to the Japanese media before leaving and boarding a chartered plane with the Dodgers team to return to the United States.

Since the incident, Ohtani hasn’t posted anything on his social media accounts, which have been relatively active.

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