Ippei Mizuhara Surrenders To Federal Authorities Amid Bank Fraud Charge

Ippei Mizuhara, Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter, was formally charged with bank fraud on Thursday afternoon, with U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada laying out in great detail how federal authorities believe he allegedly stole more than $16 million.

Estrada also made it clear the federal investigation did not result in any evidence Ohtani knew of Mizuhara’s gambling, much less participated in sports betting.

“Mr. Ohtani, as I mentioned, has been established as a victim in this case,” Estrada said. “I want to be clear, Mr. Ohtani has cooperated fully and completely in this investigation.

“He’s not only spoken to investigators, he’s provided access to his digital devices, to his personal information to ensure that justice was done in this case.”

On Friday, Mizuhara surrendered himself to federal authorities in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles, according to Laura J. Nelson and Brittny Mejia of the L.A. Times:

Ippei Mizuhara, the former interpreter for Shohei Ohtani, surrendered to federal authorities Friday on charges that he stole more than $16 million from the Dodgers superstar to cover debts with an illegal bookmaker.

Mizuhara was expected to make his first appearance in federal court on Friday but likely be released on bail.

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.

Among the evidence amassed in the criminal complaint is a text messuage Mizuhara sent to a bookmaker when the initial reports of his betting were made public.

“Have you seen the reports?” Mizuhara text, per the complaint.

“Yes, but that’s all [expletive]. Obviously, you didn’t steal from him,” the bookie replied. “I understand it’s a cover job. I totally get it.”

Mizuhara’s responded, “Technically I did steal from him. it’s all over for me.”

How did Ippei Mizuhara steal from Shohei Ohtani?

The complaint alleges Mizuhara took Ohtani to set up a bank account in early 2018, which would be used to deposit the star’s MLB salary.

The account wasn’t accessed online between the time it was created and late 2021. That changed roughly one month after Mizuhara had an account created with the illegal Orange County bookmaking operation.

Mizuhara is alleged to have changed the contact information associated with Ohtani’s bank account, which allowed him to access the funds in order to pay off mounting gambling debt. Mizuhara reportedly told Ohtani’s agent, Nez Balelo, the two-way star did not want anyone having access to the account.

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