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Sunday May 19, 2024

Shohei Ohtani's ex-interpreter faces $16m fraud charges

Former interpreter of MLB star Shohei Ohtani charged with stealing over $16 million

By Web Desk
April 12, 2024
Federal charges leveled against Ippei Mizuhara, ex-interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani. (Los Angeles Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani (R) and his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara (L) attending a press conference at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul ahead of the 2024 MLB Seoul Series baseball game between Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres.— AFP File)
Federal charges leveled against Ippei Mizuhara, ex-interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani. (Los Angeles Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani (R) and his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara (L) attending a press conference at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul ahead of the 2024 MLB Seoul Series baseball game between Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres.— AFP File)

The former interpreter for Major League Baseball sensation Shohei Ohtani is facing federal charges of bank fraud against the MLB star.

Ippei Mizuhara was charged with bank fraud on April 11, 2024.

Mizuhara helped the Los Angeles Dodgers sensation navigate his new life in the United States since 2018.

Addressing a press conference, the US Attorney for the Central District of California, Martin Estrada, outlined the allegations against Mizuhara.

Mizuhara met Ohtani back in 2013. He assisted Ohtani in setting up a bank account and has acted as his manager ever since, according to Estrada.

“I want to emphasize this point, Mr. Ohtani is considered a victim in this case. There is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Ohtani authorised the over $16 million of transfers from his account to the bookmakers,” he said.

“Mr. Ohtani has cooperated fully and completely in this investigation. He’s not only spoken to investigators, he’s provided access to his digital devices, to his personal information, to ensure that justice was done.”

The transfers were made from devices and IP addresses linked to Mizuhara, according to Estrada.

Mizuhara, who didn't bet on baseball, is connected to an illegal gambling operation. He started gambling with an illegal sports book in September 2021 and began losing large sums of money. Over two years, he made 19,000 bets ranging from $10 to $160,000 per bet, resulting in total losses of over $40 million.

During this period, Mizuhara allegedly changed the contact information on Ohtani’s bank account to his own details. He also impersonated Ohtani to authorise wire transfers from the account to people linked to the illegal gambling operation.

Mizuhara's attorney and representatives for Ohtani and the Dodgers have declined to comment. Mizuhara is due to appear in federal district court soon. If convicted, he could face up to 30 years in prison.