MLB Statement On Ippei Mizuhara Facing Federal Bank Fraud Charge

Ippei Mizuhara was formally charged with federal bank fraud on Thursday morning, with U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada detailing how he allegedly stole more than $16 million from Shohei Ohtani as part of illegal gambling activity.

“According to the complaint, Mr. Mizuhara stole this money largely to finance his voracious appetite for illegal sports betting,” Estrada said during the press conference.

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.

“Our investigation revealed that Mizuhara, a Japanese-language interpreter, began working as a translator for Mr. Ohtani when he first came to the United States to begin playing professional baseball. Mr. Mizuhara first met Mr. Ohtani in 2013, so the two knew each other,” Estrada said.

“Mr. Ohtani did not speak or understand English, while Mr. Mizuhara knew English and was familiar with the United States. As such, Mr. Mizuhara not only translated for Mr. Ohtani but also acted as his de facto manager.”

In a 37-page complaint are text messages from Mizuhara to a bookmaker in which he discussed making bank transfers and stealing from Ohtani, who has maintained he didn’t have any knowledge of the sports betting or approve to pay off debts.

Mizuhara is expected to appear in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles in the near future. The maximum penalty for the bank fraud charge is 30 years in prison, though Mizuhara’s sentencing may be shorter as he reportedly is planning to plead guilty.

MLB statement on Ippei Mizuhara

Along with federal investigators looking into the matter, MLB launched an investigation into Mizuhara and Ohtani.

“We are aware of the charges filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office against Mr. Mizuhara for bank fraud after a thorough federal investigation. According to that investigation, Shohei Ohtani is considered a victim of fraud and there is no evidence that he authorized betting with an illegal bookmaker,” MLB said in a statement.

“Further, the investigation did not find any betting on baseball by Mr. Mizuhara. Given the information disclosed today, and other information we have already collected, we will wait until resolution of the criminal proceeding to determine whether further investigation is warranted.”

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