Feds accuse Shohei Ohtani’s ex-translator of stealing $16 million

Feds accuse Shohei Ohtani’s ex-translator of stealing $16 millionFeds accuse Shohei Ohtani’s ex-translator of stealing $16 million
via WFAA, MLB Network
Federal investigators have charged Shohei Ohtani’s former translator, Ippei Mizuhara, for allegedly unlawfully wiring approximately $16 million from the baseball star’s bank account to pay off his illegal sports gambling debts without Ohtani’s knowledge.
Key points:
  • The U.S. Attorney’s Office – Central District of California revealed the details of the case in a press release on Thursday. Mizuhara, 39, was charged with bank fraud via federal criminal complaint that day. The charge, a felony offense, carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years.
  • Mizuhara purportedly transferred a total of $16 million from Ohtani’s checking account starting in November 2021 up to January 2024. The affidavit filed with the complaint alleged the transfers were made from devices and IP addresses linked to Mizuhara.
  • Mizuhara is scheduled to make his initial court appearance at a federal court in Los Angeles on Friday.
Catching up:
  • The Los Angeles Dodgers fired Mizuhara after the illegal betting scandal surfaced while the team was in Seoul for its MLB season opener in March.
  • Ohtani, 29, publicly addressed the issue through his new interpreter, Will Ireton, days after. Federal investigators eventually cleared Ohtani of any involvement in the case.
The details:
  • The affidavit alleges that Mizuhara assisted Ohtani, who could not speak English, in setting up a bank account for his baseball salary in 2018. The MLB two-way star never granted Mizuhara control over this account. Additionally, Mizuhara allegedly informed Ohtani’s U.S.-based financial team, who do not speak Japanese, that the baseball star had denied them access to the account.
  • Mizuhara began losing a substantial amount of money several months after starting his illegal gambling activities in September 2021. The affidavit also alleges that Mizuhara changed the contact information on Ohtani’s account, linking it to the former interpreter’s phone number and an anonymous email address associated with him.
  • The affidavit alleges that Mizuhara impersonated Ohtani when speaking to a bank employee to approve the illegal wire transfer. Federal investigators noted that while Mizuhara placed illegal bets on sports, they did not find any indication that he gambled on baseball specifically.
  • Investigators acquired some recordings from Mizuhara, including a copy of a message he sent to a bookmaker soon after the report surfaced in March, allegedly writing, “Have you seen the reports?” to which the other person replied, “Obviously you didn’t steal from him. I understand it’s a cover job, I totally get it.”
  • “Technically I did steal from him,” Mizuhara allegedly wrote in his response. “It’s all over for me.”
What they’re saying:
  • U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Martin Estrada reiterated federal investigators’ statement this week clearing Ohtani’s name from the case. He wrote in the statement, “I want to emphasize this point: Mr. Ohtani is considered a victim in this case.”
  • Meanwhile, the MLB also released a statement acknowledging the recent development. The organization wrote in part, “Given the information disclosed today, and other information we have already collected, we will wait until resolution of the criminal proceeding to determine whether further investigation is warranted.”
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