MLB Star Shohei Ohtani's Ex Interpreter Pleads Guilty To $17 Million Theft

Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani has faced a curveball he could not hit — a massive betrayal by his trusted translator. 

The Blast can confirm that Ippei Mizuhara, Ohtani's former interpreter, has pleaded guilty to swindling the baseball star out of a whopping $17 million.

Ippei Mizuhara, once a crucial link between Shohei Ohtani and his English-speaking teammates, now faces up to 30 years in prison for tax and bank fraud.

Shohei Ohtani's Ex-Interpreter On The Hook For Million Dollar Fraud Scheme

Superstar Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani

In federal court in Santa Ana, California, Mizuhara pleaded guilty to bank fraud and filing a false tax return. He admitted to siphoning nearly $17 million from Ohtani's accounts to cover his extensive sports betting debts. 

For years, Mizuhara had impersonated Ohtani to bankers, capitalizing on his position to access and divert funds.

Mizuhara's gambling activities were extensive. While his winning bets totaled over $142 million, he ultimately suffered a net loss of nearly $41 million, with losing bets amounting to around $183 million. 

Crucially, none of these wagers were on baseball, and there was no evidence suggesting Ohtani's involvement or awareness of the fraudulent activities. 

Ohtani reportedly cooperated fully with investigators throughout the process.

Legal Consequences And Restitution

Ippei Mizuhara's attorney Michael Freedman seen outside the court in downtown Los Angeles

According to the NY Post, in a pre-arranged plea deal, Mizuhara admitted to his involvement in the multi-million dollar fraud case even before his arraignment in Los Angeles federal court in mid-May.

As part of the plea agreement, he must pay restitution to Ohtani, potentially totaling nearly $17 million, and an additional sum exceeding $1 million to the IRS. However, these restitution amounts may be adjusted before the sentencing date.

The charges against Mizuhara are severe. The bank fraud charge carries a potential maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison, while the charge for submitting a false tax return could result in up to three years of imprisonment. 

Shohei Ohtani's Former Interpreter's Crimes Linked To High-Stakes Gambling

While Mizuhara's image was shattered by his crimes that exploited his close relationship with the athlete, authorities uncovered a tangled web of deceit stretching back years, driven by Mizuhara's escalating gambling addiction.

The Blast noted in a report that evidence suggested Mizuhara's gambling habit began as early as September 2021, as revealed through text messages.

Bank records further implicated him by showing changes to Ohtani's account contact information linked directly to Mizuhara. Particularly damning were recorded phone calls where Mizuhara impersonated Ohtani to authorize bank transfers.

The authorities disclosed that a notable transfer occurred on June 20, 2023, when $500,000 was sent to an individual reportedly connected to bookmaker Mathew Bowyer.

Who Else Was Caught In The Web Of Crimes

The investigation into Mizuhara's activities gained momentum after it was discovered that $4.5 million had been funneled from Ohtani's account into Bowyer's bookmaking operations. 

This prompted a wider inquiry, extending to  include former minor league player Wayne Nix, who ran a bookmaking business in Southern California. 

Nix's clientele reportedly included high-profile names such as ex-MLB All-Star Yasiel Puig, basketball legend Scottie Pippen, and Maverick Carter, longtime manager and confidant of LeBron James.

Shohei Ohtani's Dream Home Purchase Defied Financial Setbacks

Despite his former interpreter's multi-million dollar fraud, Ohtani was not deterred from securing the home of his dreams, spending millions on the purchase. 

Last month, The Blast, via real estate records, confirmed that Ohtani closed a stunning $7.85 million deal on a luxurious property. An insider familiar with the transaction verified that the Dodgers star was indeed the buyer of the impressive residence. 

Conveniently situated about 13 miles from Dodger Stadium, the MLB star's new home allows for an easy 20-minute commute.

Although Adam Carolla initially listed the property for $8.99 million last summer, a price reduction in October brought it down to $8.35 million. 

Ohtani's Luxurious Home Purchase Followed Major Contract Signing With Dodgers

Shohei Ohtani speaks at a press conference

In December 2023, The Blast reported that Ohtani had signed a lucrative contract with the Dodgers. He shared the exciting news on social media, starting with an apology to his fans and the baseball community for the delay in his decision-making process.

The 29-year-old then expressed his gratitude to his fans and the Angels organization for their steadfast support. 

He acknowledged "everyone involved with each team that was part of this negotiation process," emphasizing his appreciation for the time he spent with the L.A. Angels.

Ohtani also pledged to prioritize the Dodgers' interests and to become the best version of himself. To conclude, he teased at further news but chose to keep it close to his chest for the meantime, adding, "Thank you very much."