Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara agrees to plead guilty to federal bank, tax fraud charges

 

Ippei Mizuhara, the former interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani, is expected to enter a guilty plea on one count of bank fraud and one count of subscribing to a false tax return, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Mizuhara is accused of embezzling millions of dollars and allegedly using the money to cover gambling debts. He will likely formally enter the plea at some point in the next few weeks. Mizuhara is scheduled to be arraigned May 14, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

“The extent of this defendant’s deception and theft is massive,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in a statement. “He took advantage of his position of trust to take advantage of Mr. Ohtani and fuel a dangerous gambling habit. My office is committed to vindicating victims throughout our community and ensuring that wrongdoers face justice.”

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Federal authorities discovered Mizuhara stole an estimated $17 million. He will be required to pay full restitution to Ohtani as a condition of the plea agreement.

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Federal investigators filed a complaint against Mizuhara April 11. One day later, he turned himself into law enforcement, the Department of Justice confirmed.

Estrada said Mizuhara was so intertwined in Ohtani’s life and career he became the star’s “de facto manager.” The role enabled him to withdraw money from the account — at times lying and impersonating Ohtani to bank employees — to finance his “insatiable appetite for illegal sports betting.”

“Ippei Mizuhara surrendered this morning to the custody of the United States Marshals Service,” federal authorities said Friday in a statement sent to Fox News Digital.

ESPN reports Mizuhara was wiring payments to Ryan Boyajian, a cast member of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Orange County.”

Boyajian was identified as “Associate 1” in the complaint against Mizuhara. Matthew Bowyer was the alleged illegal bookmaker who is also under investigation. 

ESPN added Boyajian and Bowyer have been close friends “for nearly 20 years,” and they operated the account Mizuhara would wire money to for their real estate projects.  

Ohtanti publicly addressed the gambling scandal in late March, saying he had never placed a sports bet and that Mizuhara’s story about paying off his $4.5 million gambling debt was fabricated.

“I never bet on baseball or any other sports or never have asked somebody to do that on my behalf,” Ohtani said through a new interpreter prior to the Dodgers’ final spring training game. “And never went through a bookmaker to bet on sports.”

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Ohtani, who is the highest-paid player in Major League Baseball, said he was still trying to gether his emotions after learning about the scandal.

“To summarize how I’m feeling right now, I’m just beyond shocked,” Ohtani said. “It’s really hard to verbalize how I’m feeling at this point.

“I’m very saddened and shocked that someone who I trusted has done this.”

A sentencing date for Mizuhara has not yet been set.

This is a developing story.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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