Guilty: Stole Millions From Sports Star

( – Ippei Mizuhara, who formerly served as the interpreter for celebrated Japanese baseball player Shohei Ohtani, faces a maximum sentence of 33 years in prison after admitting to the embezzlement of millions of dollars from Ohtani, whom he once considered a close friend.

Mizuhara has confessed to one count of bank fraud and one count of filing a fraudulent tax return.

In addition to a lengthy prison sentence, he is required to repay $16,975,010 to Victim A, who is believed to be Ohtani, The Guardian reports.

The guilty plea is scheduled to be entered in the forthcoming weeks, with the arraignment set for May 14, according to the prosecuting attorneys.

“The extent of this defendant’s deception and theft is massive. He took advantage of his position of trust to take advantage of Mr Ohtani and fuel a dangerous gambling habit,” stated United States attorney Martin Estrada.

Mizuhara and Ohtani developed a deep personal friendship subsequent to Ohtani’s relocation to the United States from Japan in 2018 to start his Major League Baseball career with the Los Angeles Angels.

Their relationship persisted even after Ohtani signed a 10-year, $700 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers last December.

However, the Dodgers terminated Mizuhara in March following his admission of stealing at least $4.5 million from Ohtani to settle gambling debts.

It has been reported that the plea agreement will include a statement supporting Ohtani’s account of the events, asserting that Ohtani never engaged in sports betting, was unaware of Mizuhara’s gambling activities, and was the target of a “massive theft” by Mizuhara.

While Major League Baseball players are prohibited from betting on baseball and risk a lifetime ban for betting on their own teams, they may legally wager on other sports in nearly 40 states, excluding California where both Mizuhara and Ohtani reside.

There is no evidence suggesting Ohtani has ever placed bets himself or was aware of Mizuhara’s gambling.

Prosecutors disclosed that Mizuhara exploited his close association with Ohtani to siphon millions from the baseball star’s bank account over several years, occasionally impersonating Ohtani to bank officials.

Although Mizuhara’s successful bets accumulated over $142 million, which he deposited into his own account instead of Ohtani’s, his losses totaled approximately $183 million, culminating in a net deficit of nearly $41 million. He did not gamble on baseball.

The fraudulent activities came to light following the detection of suspicious wire transfers from Ohtani’s bank account during a federal investigation into an alleged illegal bookmaker.

Initially, Mizuhara claimed Ohtani had agreed to cover his gambling debts, but he later recanted, admitting Ohtani was unaware of the payments to the bookmaker in California.

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