Apr 11, 2024 - Sports

Shohei Ohtani's ex-interpreter charged with alleged $16 million theft

Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Dodgers and interpreter Ippei Mizuhara arrive to a game against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch on February 27, 2024 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Shohei Ohtani and interpreter Ippei Mizuhara on Feb. 27 in Glendale, Arizona. Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Shohei Ohtani's former interpreter was charged Thursday with stealing $16 million from the Dodgers star to pay off gambling debts, which were allegedly incurred with an illegal bookmaking operation.

The big picture: Ohtani, who has denied previously knowing about the theft or about engaging in sports betting himself, is considered a victim in the case, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California.

Zoom in: Ippei Mizuhara, the Japanese-language translator who has been alongside Ohtani since his Major League Baseball debut in 2018, is accused of making unauthorized transfers from the player's bank account from November 2021 until January 2024.

  • The criminal complaint includes a message the interpreter sent to a bookmaker, admitting to stealing from Ohtani. "Technically I did steal from him. It's all over for me," the message states.
  • Mizuhara is charged with one count of bank fraud, a felony offense, per the U.S. Attorney's Office.
  • He is accused of impersonating Ohtani in phone calls with bank employees, placing thousands of bets and making large purchases on the baseball player's bank account.

What's next: Mizuhara is expected to appear in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles "in the near future," the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Go deeper: Shohei Ohtani says he never engaged in sports betting

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