Ippei Mizuhara, the former interpreter and friend of Shohei Ohtani, has been well known among baseball fans as he has been on the baseball superstar’s side since 2018.

But now Mizuhara is being linked to a sports betting scandal that could potentially taint the squeaky clean image of Ohtani.

The allegations stem from wire transfers that came from Ohtani’s account, totaling more than $4.5 million, paid to an alleged booking operation, a source told NBC News.

Mizuhara’s ties to Diamond Bar

Ippei Mizuhara, born in Japan, moved to the United States in the early 1990s.

The Japanese-language interpreter attended Diamond Bar High School, according to the school website. While some reports indicated Mizuhara graduated from UC Riverside, a spokesperson from the university told NBCLA there are no records of him attending the school.

Public records show the 39-year-old’s official address has been Diamond Bar since 1992, living with his parents who were both in their 60s.

As Ohtani’s career grew, so did Mizuhara’s popularity. The interpreter has 420,000 followers on his Instagram account, which primarily shows Ohtani’s pictures and videos. His followers include Max Muncy and Walker Buehler of the Dodgers.

‘Peanut butter and Jelly’ relationship with Ohtani

The Diamond Bar High School website notes Mizuhara previously worked for the Boston Red Sox, interpreting for Hideki Okajima whose MLB career took place between 2007 and 2011.

Upon leaving Boston, Mizuhara went back to Japan to interpret for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), where he met Ohtani. Ohtani joined the Hokkaido team as a rookie in 2013.

When Ohtani signed with the Los Angeles Angels, he brought Mizuhara along with him.

Their professional relationship appears to have grown to a friendship. Mizuhara told Nippon.com that he and Ohtani hung out and played video games together off the field.

Former Angels Manager Joe Maddon told Kyodo News in 2021 that Ohtani and his interpreter went together like “peanut butter and jelly.”

When Ohtani signed a 10-year, $700 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers – the most lucrative contract the sport has ever seen – Mizuhara was also hired to continue to interpret for the baseball star. ESPN reported that Mizuhara told the outlet he had been paid between $300,000 and $500,000 annually.

How is Ohtani linked to this?

As a federal investigation began looking into Matthew Bowyer, an Orange County resident, for allegedly running a bookmaking operation, they saw Ohtani’s names in some of the wire-transfer payments.

Mizuhara was terminated from the LA Dodgers after reports sparked questions surrounding wire-transfer payments from Ohtani’s bank account. NBC News confirmed the wire-transfer payments totaled about $4.5 million, paid in $500,000 increments. The money was sent from Ohtani’s account to an associate of Bowyer, according to the source.

The source also told NBC News that Mizuhara had authorized wire transfers from Ohtani’s account over a period of time last year without his participation or authorization.

Law firm Berk Brettler LLP, attorney for Ohtani, said in a statement: “In the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft and we are turning the matter over to the authorities.”

By ting