Dodgers star, Ohtani’s Translator Being Accused of Pocketing $16M from Him

Former translator of Shohei Ohtani, Ippei Mizuhara, is accused of taking more than $16 million from Ohtani to pay off his gambling debts. The U.S. attorney’s office revealed this on Thursday.

They filed a criminal complaint against Mizuhara for bank fraud. Ohtani didn’t know about the fraud and was seen as a victim.

The officer said the bets which Mizuhara made were not on baseball games.

Mizuhara was Ohtani’s translator for a long time. During that period, he had complete access to Ohtani’s bank accounts.

Records show he used Ohtani’s accounts online and tricked the bank by pretending to be Ohtani. He didn’t let Ohtani’s agent or others see the accounts.

On March 20, 2024, Mizuhara confessed to a bookie through a secret text message that he took Ohtani’s money. He wrote, “I technically stole from him. It’s all over for me.”

Ohtani unaware, cooperates with officials, trusting Mizuhara, communication barrier, and electronic device access.

Mizuhara is under a federal investigation for moving millions of dollars from Ohtani’s bank account to an illegal bookie starting in November 2021.

Because of the trust he had, he had special access to Ohtani’s money and he misused that trust to take advantage of Mr. Ohtani, said U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada.

Lawyers for Ohtani, Mizuhara, and the Dodgers chose not to comment on the charges.

The fraud involving Ohtani was discovered while the U.S. Department of Justice was investigating illegal sports betting in Southern California and how the money from it was being laundered through Las Vegas casinos.

This investigation has led to charges or convictions for 12 people involved in illegal gambling operations, according to the complaint.

While sports betting is allowed in 38 states and Washington, D.C., it’s against the law in California. This has led some bettors to use illegal gambling services.

Ohtani’s shock and betrayal, never being involved in betting, Mizuhara’s conflicting statements, and press conference disclosure.

Mizuhara could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison for these charges and is expected to appear in court soon.

Estrada mentioned that Mizuhara kept his winnings in his bank account.

Even though Mizuhara owed millions of dollars to bookies, he kept asking them to let him bet more money.

He messaged a bookmaker, “Bad run,” per the sources, and “Any chance you can bump me again?? As you know, you don’t have to worry about me not paying!!”

By November 2023, Mizuhara’s debts had become overwhelming. He messaged the same bookie, saying he lost a lot of money on cryptocurrency investments over the past few years and also suffered big losses with sports betting.

“Is there any way to settle on an amount? I’ve lost way too much on the site already … of course, I know it’s my fault,” he said, as CNBC reported

Law enforcement officials mentioned that Ohtani has been fully cooperating and allowed them access to his electronic devices.

Ohtani explained to officials that he trusted his accountants and financial advisors to manage his accounts.

Ohtani’s MLB prominence: record contract, MVP titles, Japanese home run leader, potential gambling policy implications. (Credits: Ottumwa Courier)

Since he earned money from both foreign and domestic sources, he usually didn’t ask about specific accounts, but rather, wanted a general view of his investments.

However, because of the language barrier, financial agents and advisors communicated through Mizuhara to translate for Ohtani.

During a press conference on March 25, Ohtani said he had just found out about the theft and felt sad, shocked, and betrayed by someone he trusted.

“I’ve never bet on baseball or any other sports, nor have I asked someone to do it for me,” Ohtani said through another translator.

Earlier, Mizuhara had claimed that Ohtani knew about the debts and was helping him pay them off. However, he later retracted those statements.

Ohtani is a prominent figure in Major League Baseball. The 29-year-old Japanese pitcher signed a record 10-year, $700 million contract with the Dodgers on Dec. 9 after playing six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels.

Ohtani is the only MLB player to win the American League MVP unanimously twice and the first Japanese-born player to lead the major league in home runs.

If Ohtani were found to be involved, he could face consequences under MLB’s gambling policy, including suspension for a season or permanent ineligibility.

Sajda Parveen
Sajda Parveen
Sajda Praveen is a market expert. She has over 6 years of experience in the field and she shares her expertise with readers. You can reach out to her at [email protected]
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