Sun. May 26th, 2024

MLB star Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter agrees to plead guilty to stealing almost $17 million from him

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May18,2024

LOS ANGELES (TCD) — The 39-year-old former interpreter for MLB star Shohei Ohtani will plead guilty in federal court to stealing millions of dollars from the athlete’s account and using it to pay off gambling debts.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California announced Wednesday, May 8, that Ippei Mizuhara agreed to plead guilty to bank fraud and subscribing to a false tax return. He will formally enter the plea May 14. He faces up to 30 years in federal prison for the fraud charge, whereas the tax return charge comes with a maximum of three years in prison.

The statement says Mizuhara stole the money “without the player’s knowledge or permission.”

Mizuhara was charged in April with funneling over $16 million out of Ohtani’s bank account over the course of several years because he was deeply in debt. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mizuhara started gambling with an illegal bookmaker around September 2021 and began losing money.

Mizuhara would help Ohtani open bank accounts but then change the login and contact information registered to the account so bank employees would call Mizuhara, rather than Ohtani, to approve wire transfers. He also reportedly pretended to be Ohtani while speaking on the phone with bankers about 24 times.

On June 20, 2023, Mizuhara reportedly wired $500,000 taken from Ohtani’s account to one of the bookmaker’s associates. In September 2023, Mizuhara told Ohtani he needed $60,000 worth of dental work done, so Ohtani cut him a check from a different bank than the one where Mizuhara was transferring the money. After receiving the check, Mizuhara put the money in his own bank account and instead charged the dental work to one of Ohtani’s other accounts.

Starting in January, Mizuhara bought nearly $325,000 worth of baseball cards because he planned to sell them. Ohtani’s sports agent and financial advisers reportedly asked Mizuhara for the bank account information, but he “lied and said Ohtani did not want them to access the account because it was private.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said, “In fact, Mizuhara did not want them to know that he had been stealing from Ohtani and had fraudulently obtained more than $16,975,010 from him.”

According to the statement, Mizuhara lied on his tax returns by saying his income for 2022 was $136,865. However, he “knew the amount was substantially higher and he knowingly failed to report additional income of $4.1 million.”

The plea deal says Mizuhara owes nearly $1.2 million in taxes for 2022, and must pay Ohtani $16,975,010 in restitution.

In December 2023, Ohtani signed a record-breaking 10-year, $700 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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One thought on “MLB star Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter agrees to plead guilty to stealing almost $17 million from him”
  1. I can’t believe someone would betray the trust of a player like that. It’s despicable how Mizuhara took advantage of Ohtani’s financial resources for his own benefit. Justice must be served.

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