Japanese interpreter charged with stealing $16 million from MLB star Shohei Ohtani

By Thomson Reuters Apr 11, 2024 | 1:15 PM

(Reuters) -Japanese baseball star Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter has been charged with bank fraud for stealing millions of dollars from the Los Angeles Dodgers player to cover gambling debts, U.S. officials announced at a news conference on Thursday.

Ippei Mizuhara is accused of stealing more than $16 million from an account of Ohtani’s that Mizuhara had helped set up, and sending the funds to an illegal sports gambling operation, according to U.S. Attorney E. Martin Estrada.

Ohtani, who signed a record $700 million, 10-year contract to join the Dodgers this season, told reporters at a March 25 press conference that he was a victim of theft by Mizuhara and that he never bet on baseball or knowingly paid a bookmaker.

Federal investigators have not found any evidence suggesting Mizuhara placed bets on baseball games, according to Estrada. Estrada said the Justice Department considers Ohtani a victim of Mizuhara’s alleged fraud and has not accused him of any wrongdoing.

Mizuhara is expected to make his first court appearance in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles in the near future. Bank fraud carries a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Ismail Shakil; Editing by Bill Berkrot)