Mizuhara Itpay, a former interpreter of Shohei Ohtani (30, Los Angeles Dodgers), has been charged with bank fraud for stealing more than $16 million (about 21.88 billion won) from Ohtani’s account to settle his illegal gambling betting debt.
Federal prosecutor Martin Estrada said on the 11th (local time) that Mizuhara had accused her of lying to the bank to gain access to Ohtani’s bank account.

Mizuhara, who has been Ohtani’s interpreter since 2018, used Ohtani’s trust in him and Ohtani’s language barrier to create Ohtani’s bank account that he could access only, prosecutors added.

He helped Ohtani open an account at a bank branch in Arizona in 2018 and translated his personal details when setting up his personal details. Ohtani deposited his salary from playing in the MLB into this account.

Mizuhara also called the bank and tricked him into saying he was Ohtani and then approved the transfer of money from Ohtani’s bank account to an illegal gambler.

“Mizuhara acted as Ohtani’s de facto manager and pulled money from his account by lying to bank employees, including impersonating Ohtani to finance illegal gambling debt,” Estrada said.

“There is no evidence that Otani was aware of the interpreter’s behavior, and Otani cooperated with investigators,” prosecutor Estrada said, adding that he wanted to emphasize that Otani was considered a victim of the incident.

Ohtani wrote a detailed criminal complaint through text messages, financial records and phone call recordings.

Mizuhara faces up to 30 years in federal prison if convicted of bank fraud. He is expected to appear in federal court for the first time this week.

Federal investigators said Mizuhara made about 19,000 bets between December 2021 and January 2024. Each gamble has been betted from about $10 (about 13,000 won) to $160,000 (about 210 million won), which averages $12,800 (about 17.51 million won).

Prosecutors added that they found no evidence of Mizuhara betting on baseball.

Mizuhara’s winning dividend was received through her bank account, not Ohtani, and this amount alone turned out to be more than 142 million dollars. However, when she lost, her bet amounted to 183 million dollars, losing almost 41 million dollars.
In addition, 1,000 baseball cards containing legends like Yogi Berra were confiscated. It has also been revealed that Mizuhara traded 325,000 dollars worth of the cards online from January to March. Mizuhara said she purchased the cards with the intention of reselling them.

Mizuhara told ESPN last month that she had bet on soccer, basketball, American football and college football, and that Ohtani had paid off her gambling debt at her request. But the next day, Ohtani changed his words, saying he had no knowledge of the gambling debt and had never transferred money to illegal gamblers.

Ohtani said he first learned about Mizuhara’s gambling problem during a team meeting after winning the game against the San Diego Padres on March 20, when the Major League Baseball’s Seoul Series was held. Mizuhara was fired immediately.

Ohtani held a press conference five days later and refuted that he did not bet on sports or pay off his interpreter’s gambling debt. “Mizuhara has been stealing money from my account and lying,” Ohtani said.

Ohtani signed a 10-year, $700 million (about 957.6 billion won) mega contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers in December last year, and Ohtani and Mizuhara have been together every day since 2018 when Ohtani joined the Los Angeles Angels. 퀸알바

Meanwhile, the Major League Baseball Secretariat said, “We will wait until the criminal procedure is resolved to determine whether further investigation is needed by combining the information released today with other information collected.”

Under Major League Baseball regulations, players and club employees are legally prohibited from betting on baseball.

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