Shohei Ohtani's former translator to plead guilty to transferring $17M from MLB star's bank account

The former translator for Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani has agreed to plead guilty to illegally transferring $17 million out of Ohtani's account without his knowledge, authorities said Wednesday.

Ippei Mizuhara, 39, will plead guilty to single counts of bank fraud and subscribing to a false tax return, according to federal prosecutors in Southern California.

“The extent of this defendant’s deception and theft is massive,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said. “He took advantage of his position of trust to take advantage of Mr. Ohtani and fuel a dangerous gambling habit."

Mizuhara was an employee of Ohtani's former team, the Los Angeles Angels, but Ohtani "paid him separately for the additional work of driving him to meetings and interpreting for non-baseball-related activities," prosecutors said.

Mizuhara began making bets with an illegal bookmaker in September 2021, authorities said, losing wagers and running up a massive bill.

"Unable to pay his gambling debts, Mizuhara orchestrated a scheme to deceive and cheat the bank to fraudulently obtain money from" Ohtani's account, prosecutors said in a statement.

Mizuhara used Ohtani’s password to get to his bank account, without his knowledge or permission, prosecutors said.

"Specifically, Mizuhara changed the registered email address and telephone number on the account so bank employees would call him — not Ohtani — when attempting to verify wire transfers from the account," federal authorities said.

Mizuhara even "impersonated Ohtani" and used his "personal identifying information to deceive the bank’s employees" to make wire transfers, authorities said. He called the bank about 24 times pretending to be Ohtani, officials alleged.

An attorney for Mizuhara said they had no further comment. A representative for Ohtani had no immediate comment Wednesday.

Mizuhara is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.

There were a variety of frauds, according to the prosecutor’s office.

In a case in June, Mizuhara transferred $500,000 from Ohtani’s account to an associate of the bookmaker, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a statement.

In September, Mizuhara needed $60,000 worth of dental work, and Ohtani agreed to pay for it with a check — but when it came time to pay the dentist, Mizuhara used Ohtani’s debit card account and kept the money from the check for himself, the office said.

Mizuhara also stole $325,000 from Ohtani’s account to buy baseball cards over three months this year, and his plan was to resell them for a profit, it said.

The Dodgers were playing their season-opening games against the San Diego Padres in Seoul, South Korea, when reports first emerged about Ohtani's potential ties to an illegal gambling operation.

Ohtani insisted he never bet on sports, and federal prosecutors have consistently called him a "victim" who didn't know about his interpreter's actions.

Ohtani left the Angels and signed a highly unusual blockbuster deal with the Dodgers this winter.

He's committed to the Dodgers for 10 seasons and is set to receive $700 million in a radically back-loaded, team-friendly agreement. Ohtani agreed to be paid a relatively low $2 million per season for 10 years before he receives $68 million for each of the following 10 years.

Ohtani is a generational talent as the first player since legendary Babe Ruth, more than a century ago, to both hit and pitch at high levels.

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