Shohei Ohtani's Interpreter Charged with Stealing $16 Million to Pay Gambling Debts

Shohei Ohtani's interpreter charged with stealing $16M from the baseball star's account to pay off gambling debts, highlighting the importance of financial vigilance for high-profile athletes.

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Salman Khan
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Shohei Ohtani's Interpreter Charged with Stealing $16 Million to Pay Gambling Debts

Shohei Ohtani's Interpreter Charged with Stealing $16 Million to Pay Gambling Debts

Ippei Mizuhara, the longtime interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani, has been charged with bank fraud after allegedly stealing over $16 million from Ohtani's bank account to pay off his substantial gambling debts. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Mizuhara accompanied Ohtani to open a bank account in Arizona in 2018 and later misled Ohtani's financial advisers, changed the account information, and used the funds to pay off his own gambling losses.

A federal investigation concluded that it was a scheme perpetrated by Mizuhara, who had accumulated $40 million in gambling losses over a three-year period. "Mizuhara transferred $16 million from Ohtani's account to a betting patron without the baseball star's knowledge," investigators stated. Ohtani said he had no involvement or knowledge of Mizuhara's actions and illegal gambling activities.

Ohtani's lawyers discovered the theft and are turning the matter over to the authorities. "Ohtani has been the victim of a 'massive theft,'" his lawyers stated. The team spokesman confirmed that Mizuhara had been fired from his position as Ohtani's interpreter.

Why this matters: This incident emphasizes the significance for high-profile athletes and wealthy individuals to closely monitor their finances and be vigilant about who they trust with access to their money. It also highlights the potential risks and consequences associated with gambling addiction, even for those in trusted positions.

Mizuhara, 39, was charged with bank fraud by federal authorities in the Central District of California and faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted. Prosecutors allege that Mizuhara took advantage of Ohtani's language barrier to commit fraud, blocking Ohtani's English-speaking U.S. financial advisers from the account and posing as the ballplayer to trick bank employees into wiring massive transfers. Ohtani appears to be cleared of any wrongdoing, as the Department of Justice said it had no evidence the player knew about the transfers. Mizuhara is reportedly negotiating a guilty plea deal.

Key Takeaways

  • Ohtani's interpreter Ippei Mizuhara charged with $16M bank fraud to pay gambling debts.
  • Mizuhara misled Ohtani's advisers, changed account info, and stole funds without Ohtani's knowledge.
  • Mizuhara accumulated $40M in gambling losses over 3 years before perpetrating the fraud.
  • Ohtani cleared of wrongdoing, as DOJ found no evidence he knew about the transfers.
  • Mizuhara faces up to 30 years in prison and is negotiating a guilty plea deal.