Ohtani translator charged with stealing over US$16 million from Dodgers star


“Due to the position of trust he occupied with Mr Ohtani, Mr Mizuhara had unique access to Mr Ohtani’s finances,” Estrada said.

“He used and abused that position of trust in order to take advantage of Mr Ohtani and to feed his insatiable appetite for sports betting,” Estrada said, adding that Mizuhara “committed fraud on a massive scale.”

The Justice Department complaint detailed a staggering volume and value of wagers placed by Mizuhara as his gambling spiralled out of control.

Between December 2021 and January 2024, Mizuhara placed approximately 19,000 bets ranging in value from US$10 to US$160,000 at an average of around US$12,800 per bet. During that period, Mizuhara had winning bets worth US$142.3 million, and losing bets of US$182.9 million – leaving him with losses of roughly US$40.7 million.

The complaint detailed that contact information on Ohtani’s bank account was later changed to link it to Mizuhara’s phone number and to an anonymous email address connected to Mizuhara, the affidavit said.

Mizuhara also would allegedly falsely identify himself as Ohtani to trick bank employees into authorising wire transfers.

Bank recordings of telephone calls captured Mizuhara impersonating Ohtani as he sought to make wire transfers.

The Justice Department said Ohtani, in an interview with law enforcement, had denied authorising Mizuhara’s wire transfers.

“Ohtani provided his cellphone to law enforcement, who determined that there was no evidence to suggest that Ohtani was aware of, or involved in, Mizuhara’s illegal gambling activity or payment of those debts,” the department added.

Major League Baseball’s gambling policy bars “any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee” from betting on baseball or making illegal bets on any other sport.

Players found guilty of betting on a game they were involved in are subject to life bans, with one-year suspensions if they are found to have gambled on games they are not directly involved in.

Ohtani is a rarity in baseball in that he combines elite-level pitching and hitting ability, making him a generational talent who has been portrayed as a modern-day version of Babe Ruth.

Those skills and his clean-cut image have made him the global face of baseball.

Bank fraud carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.


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