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Interpreter For MLB Star Shohei Ohtani Charged With Bank Fraud

Investigators Allege $16 Million In Sports Betting Losses


The sports betting controversy surrounding Los Angeles Dodger baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani took another turn this week with the arrest of the player’s former interpreter.

Federal law enforcement officials allege Ippei Mizuhara, 39, stole more than $16 million over two years. He’s now charged with bank fraud, with U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada emphasizing that authorities believe Ohtani did not have knowledge of the theft and that Mizuhara was using stolen funds to pay back millions of dollars in gambling debts.

“I want to emphasize this point: Mr. Ohtani is considered a victim in this case,” Estrada said Wednesday during a news conference. “Mr. Mizuhara used and abused that position of trust… in order to plunder Mr. Ohtani’s bank account to the tune of over $16 million.”

Feds Lay Out Case

Investigators allege Mizuhara helped Ohtani open a bank account when the player moved to the U.S. in 2018 to play for the Los Angeles Angels. Ohtani said that he didn’t authorize use of the account for Mizuhara.

But authorities believe the interpreter told his financial advisers, who didn’t speak Japanese, that the player had denied them access to his accounts. They also allege Mizuhara pretended to be Ohtani in phone calls to the bank to authorize major financial transfers.

Investigators say Mizuhara began betting in September 2021 and sustained heavy losses last year. He was reported as averaging 25 bets a day with single wagers running as high as $160,000, with a total of 19,000 bets through January.

As part of the investigation, authorities uncovered a spreadsheet showing that Mizuhara had won $142 million, but lost $183 million for a total net loss of $40.7 million.

“Bank records also show that the phone number and email address on Ohtani’s account were changed to those associated with Mizuhara in late 2021,” ESPN reported. “Prosecutors said that winnings were deposited in Mizuhara’s account, not Ohtani’s.”

Part Of Wider Investigation

The scandal first came to light after a federal investigation into California’s Mathew Bowyer, who is alleged to have run an illegal bookmaking operation. Authorities allege Mizuhara regularly texted Bowyer about betting and asking for more credit to wager.

One of those texts noted: “I’m terrible at this sport betting thing huh? Lol . . . Any chance u can bump me again?? As you know, you don’t have to worry about me not paying!”

Investigators reported that Mizuhara never bet on baseball and his attorney’s didn’t offer a comment on the case. Officials with Major League Baseball are continuing to investigate the case as well.

“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,” the league noted in a statement.