Ohtani’s Translator Accused of Stealing $16 Million from Him

April 12, 2024

NEWPORT BEACH, CA—Shohei Ohtani’s former translator Ippei Mizuhara allegedly stole more than $16 million from him to cover millions of dollars of gambling debts, the U.S. attorney’s office announced on Thursday.

A newly filed criminal complaint against Mizuhara alleges bank fraud and also states Ohtani had no knowledge of the fraud and is considered a victim in the case, reports CNBC.

None of the sporting bets Mizuhara made were on baseball games.

The U.S. attorney’s office discovered Mizuhara had full access to Ohtani’s bank accounts during his tenure as Ohtani’s translator. Phone records indicate he accessed the accounts online and lied to the bank, pretending to be Ohtani. Records also indicate Mizuhara refused to give access to Ohtani’s accounts to his agent and other financial advisors, according to CNBC.

Federal investigators were aware of millions of dollars of wire transfers originating from Ohtani’s bank account to an illegal bookmaker beginning in November 2021.

“Due to the position of trust, he had unique access to his finances and he used and abused that place of trust to take advantage of Mr. Ohtani,” stated U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada.

Mizuhara’s alleged actions were discovered as the U.S. Department of Justice was looking into illegal sports bookmaking operations in Southern California and the laundering of the proceeds through casinos in Las Vegas.

The current investigation has already led to criminal charges and/or convictions of 12 criminal defendants, the complaint read.

Sports gambling is legal in 38 states, however, it’s still illegal in California.

Mizuhara faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for the charges and is expected to make a court appearance in the next couple of days. Ohtani, Mizuhara, and the Dodgers declined to comment on the charges, reports CNBC.

Despite owing bookmakers millions of dollars in losses, Mizuhara allegedly asked them to increase his betting limits. He also kept his winnings in his own bank account.

However, by November 2023, Mizuhara’s debts had become overwhelming and told bookmakers he lost his money on crypto investments.

During the investigation, Ohtani told officials he believed his accountants and financial advisors were monitoring his accounts because he was receiving income from foreign and domestic sources and did not ask for detailed information. Due to language barriers, Mizuhara would handle communications between Ohtani and financial advisors.

Feature Screenshot via NBC News YouTube

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