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Report: MLB expected to investigate former player Fletcher for gambling on sports

David Fletcher Los Angeles Angels David Fletcher - The Canadian Press

Major League Baseball is expected to investigate former Angels player David Fletcher for gambling on sports with a bookmaker who also took bets from Shohei Ohtani's former interpreter, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Saturday because they weren’t at liberty to discuss such impending matters.

ESPN reported Friday night that Fletcher placed bets with Mathew Bowyer, an alleged illegal bookmaker in Southern California. Federal prosecutors say Ippei Mizuhara stole nearly $17 million from Ohtani to pay off sports gambling debts during a yearslong scheme, at times impersonating the Dodgers superstar to bankers.

Sources told ESPN that Fletcher, who currently is with the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate, bet on several sports but not baseball.

MLB declined to comment on the Fletcher report.

The league's gambling policy prohibits players and team employees from wagering on baseball, even legally. MLB also bans betting on other sports with illegal or offshore bookmakers. The penalty is at the discretion of the commissioner’s office.

Fletcher was a teammate of Ohtani's during the Japanese two-way sensation's six years with the Angels. Ohtani signed a 10-year, $700-million contact with the Los Angeles Dodgers last December while Fletcher was traded to the Atlanta Braves. He is now with the Triple-A Gwinnett Stripers.

Diane Bass, Bowyer’s lawyer, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles declined to comment on the ESPN report. Calls and texts to Fletcher’s agent by the AP were not immediately returned.

Mizuhara pleaded not guilty Tuesday to bank and tax fraud, a formality ahead of a plea deal he negotiated with prosecutors and signed on May 5 in a wide-ranging sports betting case.

In a March interview, Fletcher told ESPN he was present at a 2021 poker game in San Diego where Mizuhara first met Bowyer. Fletcher said he knew Bowyer was a bookmaker at the time, and added that he never placed a bet himself with Bowyer’s operation.