Key Findings & Top Questions Answered From Ippei Mizuhara Investigation

On Thursday, federal law enforcement officials announced Ippei Mizuhara, Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter, was charged with bank fraud.

U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada was accompanied by IRS Special Agent in Charge Tyler Hatcher and Special Agent in Charge at U.S. Department of Homeland Security Eddy Wang during the press conference in a Los Angeles courtroom.

The complaint alleges that more than $16 million was stolen from Ohtani, to pay off gambling debts from Mizuhara’s involvement with an illegal bookmaker. The investigation discovered no evidence of Ohtani’s involvement, with the official stance that the Los Angeles Dodgers star was the victim of theft.

Ippei Mizuhara affidavit key details

Illegal gambling began in 2021

Text messages found on Mizuhara’s mobile phone show that in September 2021, he began gambling with an illegal sportsbook and started losing substantial sums of money late that year.

During this same time, the contact information to Ohtani’s bank account (x5848 Account) were allegedly changed to Mizuhara’s phone number and an anonymous email connected to him.

Official charge of bank fraud

Based on the foregoing, there is probable cause to believe that MIZUHARA has committed bank fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344(2). on the foregoing, there is probable cause to believe that Mizuhara has committed bank fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344(2).

Considering all evidence and the timeline laid out by SA Seymour, Mizuhara is facing a federal charge of bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. Mizuhara surrendered himself to authorities on Friday and appeared in a Los Angeles district court.

Creating the bank account

Between November 2021 and January 2024, funds north of $16 million were transferred via wire from a checking account belonging to Ohtani.

Ohtani did not authorize any transfers from the account, which were made from devices and IP addresses associated with Mizuhara.

Mizuhara impersonated Ohtani in conversations with bank

Recorded phone calls with one of the banks revealed that Mizuhara impersonated Ohtani in several phone calls. Attempting to open up funds to use for his own personal use via wire transfer.

Bank A records show that Mizuhara accessed the x5848 Account pretending to be Victim A and transferred funds to associates of Bookmaker 1. In particular, on June 20, 2023, Mizuhara accessed the x5848 Account from the Central District of California pretending to be Victim A and wire transferred $500,000 to an associate of Bookmaker 1.

The lengths that Mizuhara went to have full access to Ohtani’s accounts, explain how deep these allegations go.

Mizuhara circumvented a February 2022 suspension on the x5848 Account by providing biographical information to the employee, which allowed for the lift any limits on the account.

Total number of bets and money

A review of Mizuhara’s betting history, account number 35966, listed an extensive run of both cash earned and lost, including numerous credit increases through Bookmaker 1.

The 35966 Records reflect approximately 19,000 wagers between December 2021 and January 2024, and nearly 25 bets per day on average. The wagers reflected in the 35966 Records ranged in value from roughly $10 to $160,000 per bet, with an average bet amount of roughly $12,800. During this period, the 35966 Records reflect total winning bets of $142,256,769.74, and total losing bets of $182,935,206.68, leaving a total net balance of negative $40,678,436.94.

A cooperating source provided an Excel spreadsheet that detailed the complete betting history of Mizuhara between December 2021 through January 2024.

Mizuhara text messages

Numerous messages in the timeline stated above, show several instances of increased credit limits following a “bad run” of losses. Bookmaker 1 continually increased Mizuhara’s betting limits.

On or about November 14, 2022, Mizuhara messaged BOOKMAKER 1 stating “I’m terrible at this sportbetting thing huh? Lol . . . Any chance u can bump me again?? As you know, you don’t have to worry about me not paying!!”

On May 20, 2023, BOOKMAKER 1 messaged Mizuhara stating “I know you’ve been on a bad run. I don’t mind bumping u, I just want to verify that you can send at least 2M on June 1.”

In another instance on June 22, 2023, Mizuhara again asked for another increase, with Bookmaker 1 stating that his partner required assurance that the former interpreter could send repayments every week.

Because of such high balances, Bookmaker 1 noted that he paid out of pocket half of the balance, signaling a strained relationship in business.

These exchanges continued with increases in credit limits until Bookmaker 1 messaged Mizuhara around November 17, 2023, that he was watching Ohtani walk his dog in Newport Beach.

Affidavit exonerates Ohtani

In an interview with the investigative team, Ohtani provided statements on the matter.

Ohtani noted that he never gave Mizuhara control over any financial accounts, including the x5848 Account. He also never authorized any transfers to any bookmaker, or to any unauthorized account from his own personal bank account.

Seymour states that following an interview with Agent 1, who has represented Ohtani since 2018, that Mizuhara denied them access to Ohtani’s account.

Agent 1 was aware of the x5848 Account and asked Mizuhara on multiple occasions about the account. Mizuhara told Agent 1 that the x5848 Account was “private” and that Victim A did not want anyone else to monitor that account. Agent 1 stated that he did not confirm these representations directly with Victim A, but stated that he had no reason not to believe Mizuhara.

Ippei Mizuhara admitted to stealing from Ohtani

Once news began to break about the alleged theft, Mizuhara admitted to stealing from Ohtani

On or about March 20, 2024, Mizuhara messaged Bookmaker 1 stating, “Have you seen the reports?” Bookmaker 1 responded, “Yes, but that’s all bullshit. Obviously you didn’t steal from him. I understand it’s a cover job I totally get it.” MIZUHARA then responded to Bookmaker 1, “Technically I did steal from him. it’s all over for me.”

The final determination is that there is probable cause to believe that Mizuhara committed bank fraud.

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