Ippei Mizuhara, Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter, charged with bank fraud and stealing more than $16M.

April 11, 2024

Ippei Mizuhara, the longtime former interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani, has been charged with felony bank fraud after an investigation by federal authorities discovered he transferred more than $16 million out of Ohtani’s bank accounts, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Mizuhara used the money “largely to finance his voracious appetite for illegal sports gambling,” United States attorney Martin Estrada said during a news conference in Los Angeles.

Federal authorities filed a criminal complaint against Mizuhara, whom the Dodgers fired on March 20. The maximum sentence is 30 years in prison.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Mizuhara was negotiating with federal authorities to plead guilty. The extent of Mizuhara’s proposed plea deal was not yet known.

According to the complaint, Mizuhara manipulated Ohtani’s bank accounts beginning in 2021, around the time Mizuhara began wagering on sports. Mizuhara controlled an account that collected Ohtani’s baseball salary. He shielded access to the account from others in Ohtani’s orbit saying the player wanted the account to be private.

Mizuhara also impersonated Ohtani in conversations with bank officials, the complaint read.

Mizuhara had previously admitted to paying Mathew Bowyer, an alleged illegal bookmaker, at least $4.5 million out of Ohtani’s account.

“The bets do not appear to have been made on the sport of baseball,” Estrada said.

Investigators reviewed text logs between Ohtani and Mizuhara and found no evidence of discussion about gambling.

“Mr. Ohtani is considered a victim in this case,” Estrada said. “There is no evidence that Mr. Ohtani authorized the transfers to the bookmakers.”