Dodgers Team News

Shohei Ohtani Interpreter Charged With Fraud; Ippei Mizuhara Stole More Than $16 Million per DOJ

Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, has been charged with fraud by the United States Department of Justice, whose investigation alleges Mizuhara transferred more than $16 million from Ohtani’s account to an illegal sports book.

United States Attorney E. Martin Estrada of the Central District of California made this announcement on Thursday in a press conference in Los Angeles.

Wednesday evening, it was reported by The New York Times that Mizuhara was pleading guilty to federal crimes in connection with the alleged theft. At the time, it was reported that Mizuhara had stolen at least $4.5 million from Ohtani to pay off an alleged illegal bookmaker.

In Thursday’s press conference, Estrada revealed that number was much higher.

The investigation revealed that Mizuhara helped Ohtani set up a bank account in 2018. In 2021, he began placing sports bets with an illegal bookmaker. Over time, his bets got larger, and he ended up making thousands of wagers. Any winnings he made were deposited into his account, not Ohtani’s.

Estrada said the DOJ complaint alleges that Mizuhara set up the account, he was familiar with it, and used that familiarity to access the account. The investigation concluded that Mizuhara stole “over $16 million from Mr. Ohtani’s account to pay for these sports bets,” Estrada said. Mizuhara admitted to the bookmaker that he was stealing from Ohtani, per the investigation.

“Our investigation has revealed that due to the position of trust he occupied with Mr. Ohtani, Mr. Mizuhara had unique access to Mr. Ohtani’s finances,” Estrada said. “Mr. Mizuhara used that position of trust in order to use and abuse Mr. Ohtani.”

Additionally, there was more than one recording in which Mizuhara impersonated Ohtani when the bank called to confirm transactions. “When they reached out, Mr. Mizuhara would impersonate Mr. Ohtani,” Estrada said.

Estrada added that the bets “do not appear” to have been made on the sport of baseball, confirming a claim Mizuhara initially told ESPN.

As for the investigation, Estrada said it was “thorough,” and involved thousands of interviews. The authorities even reviewed the phones of both Mizuhara and Ohtani and their communication over several years using a Japanese linguist: “That review has demonstrated no discussion of betting, wagers, or authorization of transfers to bookmakers.”

The spokesperson made one thing clear. “I want to emphasize this point: Mr. Ohtani is considered a victim in this case. There is no evidence Mr. Ohtani authorized the over $16 million of transfers.”

He continued: “We allege in the complaint, Mr. Mizuhara committed fraud on a massive scale.”

Mizuhara is expected to make an appearance in court in the next few days.

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Noah Camras

Noah is an Editor for Dodgers Nation. He graduated from USC in 2022 with a B.A. in Journalism and minor in Sports Media Studies. He's been a Dodger fan his whole life, and his all-time favorite Dodgers are Matt Kemp and Russell Martin.

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