Ippei Mizuhara, Shohei Ohtani’s Interpreter and Friend, Stole $16 Million to Pay Only a Portion of His Gambling Losses

Speaking of sports gambling scandals, here’s Tim Arango and Michael S. Schmidt, reporting for The New York Times:

Ohtani has many other accounts, of course — he earns more money from endorsements and business deals than he does from his lucrative baseball salary. But it was this account, solely for Ohtani’s baseball earnings, that Mizuhara would scheme to take control of and then, as he fell deeper into a gambling addiction, pilfer for years, according to prosecutors.

Mizuhara changed the settings of the account so alerts and confirmations of transactions would go to him, not Ohtani. Drawing on phone recordings obtained from the bank, prosecutors said Mizuhara had also impersonated Ohtani to gain the bank’s approval for certain large transactions. And whenever one of Ohtani’s other advisers — his agent, tax preparer, bookkeeper or financial adviser, all of whom were interviewed for the federal investigation — inquired about the account, Mizuhara told them that Ohtani preferred the account to remain private.

Between November 2021 and January this year, Mizuhara stole $16 million from the account to feed his “voracious appetite for illegal sports betting,” according to E. Martin Estrada, the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles.

Sounds like the plot from a Coen brothers movie. At every step where anyone tried to check with Ohtani on this bank account, they went through Mizuhara as a translator.

This being a baseball story, the criminal complaint was stuffed with numbers:

  • 19,000 bets.
  • $142,256,769.74 total winning bets.
  • $182,935,206.58 total losing bets.

That’s 20-some bets per day, for years, for nearly $20,000 per wager on average. Just the frequency alone, setting aside the high stakes, is staggering.

It’s good to know, though, that Ohtani was oblivious to all of it.

Wednesday, 17 April 2024