Ohtani's former interpreter charged with bank fraud totalling $16M

The former longtime interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani, Ippei Mizuhara, is facing federal bank fraud charges for crimes involving gambling debts and theft of millions of dollars from Ohtani, as announced by U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada. Mizuhara, who acted as Ohtani's de facto manager, allegedly stole over $16 million from Ohtani's bank accounts to fund his own sports betting activities.

Estrada emphasized that Ohtani was considered a victim in this case and that there was no evidence suggesting he was aware of Mizuhara's actions. Mizuhara is expected to appear in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles for his initial appearance in the near future.

The scandal came to light after an IRS Criminal Investigation of an alleged illegal bookmaker, leading to Mizuhara's abrupt firing by the Dodgers. Major League Baseball has also opened a separate investigation into the matter. Ohtani, who recently signed a record $700 million, 10-year contract with the Dodgers, has denied any involvement in or knowledge of Mizuhara's gambling debts.

Mizuhara initially claimed that Ohtani had paid off his gambling debts, but later changed his story, stating that Ohtani had no knowledge of the debts. Ohtani expressed shock and sadness over the situation, asserting that he never bet on sports or knowingly sent money to bookmakers.

The investigation into the case moved swiftly, with charges being filed approximately three weeks after news of the scandal broke. While there is no information regarding the status of MLB's separate investigation, league rules prohibit players and team employees from wagering on baseball, as well as from betting on other sports with illegal or offshore bookmakers. Ohtani, who earned around $40 million in salary from the Los Angeles Angels before his recent contract, is also expected to earn significant amounts from endorsements.


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