Shohei Ohtani Was Allegedly Fleeced by Interpreter out of $16M in Betting Scam

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The former interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers star pitcher and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani allegedly stole more than $16 million to cover his gambling debts, according to court documents.

Prosecutors formally filed a complaint against Ippei Mizuhara this week in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

“I want to emphasize this point: Mr. Ohtani is considered a victim in this case,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said during a news conference in Los Angeles.

Mr. Ohtani hails from Japan and is a pitcher and designated hitter for the Los Angeles Dodgers of Major League Baseball. Nicknamed “Showtime,” he has previously played in MLB for the Los Angeles Angels and the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball.

Chris Seymour, a senior special agent for the IRS, submitted the filing. He allegedly unveiled that wire transfers, text messages, phone records, and interviews revealed that Mr. Mizuhara funded his illegal sports betting operation through his relationship with Mr. Ohtani.

According to court records, Mr. Mizuhara accompanied Mr. Ohtani to a bank in Arizona and opened an account where his baseball salary was deposited. Investigators contend that Mr. Ohtani’s income from endorsement deals and investments went to a different account.

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Prosecutors claim Mr. Mizuhara wagered nearly 25 bets per day. The losses from those bets amounted to a total of $41 million based on text messages with a number associated with a specific bookmaker.

Investigators also uncovered a spreadsheet that revealed about 19,000 bets between December 2021 and January 2024 for Mr. Mizuhara’s account that ranged from $10 to $160,000 per bet.

Mr. Mizuhara won over $142 million, but lost around $183 million, according to court documents.

“We are aware of the charges filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office against Mr. Mizuhara for bank fraud after a thorough federal investigation,” Major League Baseball said in a statement Thursday. “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 alleged fraud also expanded to the memorabilia market and investigators seized about 1,000 collectible baseball cards that included memorabilia from legend Yogi Berra, current Yankee Juan Soto, and Mr. Ohtani himself.

The investigators found about $325,000 in transactions to online retailers from January to March and allege that Mr. Mizuhara purchased the cards from the sites, intending to resell them later.

“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,” Estrada said. “And Mr. Mizuhara did all this to feed his insatiable appetite for illegal sports betting.”

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