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MLB Star Shohei Ohtani's Ex-Interpreter Allegedly Stole $16 Million From Him: Here's How He Did It

Ohtani recently signed a record $700 million record with Los Angeles Dodgers in December
 Shohei Ohtani and interpreter Ippei Mizuhara at a press conference | Getty Images | Photo by Dustin Bradford
Shohei Ohtani and interpreter Ippei Mizuhara at a press conference | Getty Images | Photo by Dustin Bradford

A former interpreter for baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani is facing federal charges for bank fraud. Ippei Mizuhara allegedly stole over $16 million from Ohtani, deceiving the MLB superstar and taking advantage of his trust.

U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada announced that Mizuhara stole from Major League Baseball's highest-paid player to fund a gambling scheme, and even impersonated Ohtani to bank employees to fund it.

 Ippei Mizuhara, translator for Shohei Ohtani stands in the dugout during a game | Getty Images | Photo by Jayne Ka
Ippei Mizuhara, translator for Shohei Ohtani stands in the dugout during a game | Getty Images | Photo by Jayne Ka

The scale of the fraud has shocked MLB and the sports community. However, it has absolved Ohtani from wrongdoing in baseball’s biggest gambling disgrace. MLB opened its investigation after the controversy surfaced last month, and Ohtani’s team, LA Dodgers immediately fired Mizuhara.


Mizuhara allegedly took advantage of his close relationship with his long-time friend Ohtani. Since Ohtani moved to the US, Mizuhara had accompanied him constantly due to the Japanese star’s limited English.

Mizuhara also helped the baseball star create a bank account in 2018, and he refused to give access to the account to his other professional advisors, Estrada said on Thursday during a press conference.


As per CNN, the investigators found phone and bank records that indicate Mizuhara accessed Ohtani’s account online in 2021 and started placing sports bets with a group of bookmakers linked to an illegal operation.

The prosecutor alleged that Mizuhara made unauthorized transfers from Ohtani’s bank account between November 2021 and January 2024. Authorities also obtained recordings of phone calls in which Mizuhara allegedly lied to bank employees about being Ohtani and gave them personal information to get approval for the transfers.

Ohtani is considered a victim in the case as his phone records and data showed that he was not aware or involved in the gambling activities and payment of Mizuhara’s debt, the US attorney’s office said.

The revelation provides great relief to Ohtani, as the MLB rules prohibit players and team employees from wagering (even legally) on baseball and it bans betting on other sports with illegal or offshore bookmakers. Ohtani had recently left the Los Angeles Angels after signing a historic $700 million, 10-year contract with the Dodgers.


The 36-page federal criminal complaint elaborated on the details of the gambling scheme through text messages, financial records, and recordings of phone calls. As per the information gathered by authorities, Mizuhara knew that the game was over as in one of his messages to his illegal bookmaker, he admitted that he technically stole from Ohtani. It was the same day, March 20, when the Los Angeles Times and ESPN broke the news of the investigation, AP News reported.

Mizuhara agreed to surrender to the federal authorities on Friday and appeared in front of a US District Court magistrate judge in downtown Los Angeles. Mizuhara was then released on bond and he apologized through a lawyer after appearing in court.


Mizuhara, 39, did not enter a plea during a 25-minute proceeding and he has been ordered to return for an arraignment on May 9 as per Reuters. He faces up to 30 years in federal prison if he’s convicted of a single count of bank fraud and his appearance in federal court is likely to occur soon. Meanwhile, Estrada has stated that Ohtani will continue cooperating with the investigation.