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Shohei Ohtani's Interpreter Accused of Misusing Star's Funds for Personal Gain

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Federal charges have been brought against Ippei Mizuhara, interpreter for MLB player Shohei Ohtani, alleging he misappropriated millions from Ohtani’s accounts to cover personal expenses, including purchasing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of baseball cards.

Ippei Mizuhara, who has served as interpreter and personal manager for MLB sensation Shohei Ohtani, is facing serious allegations of bank fraud, according to federal prosecutors. A detailed 37-page federal complaint accuses Mizuhara of diverting more than $16 million from Ohtani’s funds, purportedly to settle substantial gambling debts and acquire an extensive collection of baseball cards valued at approximately $325,000.

According to the complaint, Mizuhara managed these purchases through Ohtani’s bank account, procuring around 1,000 cards from online sources like eBay and Whatnot under the pseudonym "Jay Min." These transactions were made as recently as last month, with deliveries often directed to his attention at the Dodgers’ facilities. The purchases included cards featuring notable players like Juan Soto, Yogi Berra, and even Ohtani himself, many of which were found in protective cases in Mizuhara’s vehicle.

The investigation, spearheaded by IRS Special Investigator Chris Seymour, is ongoing, with efforts to catalog the complete range of Mizuhara’s card purchases. The affidavit suggests that Mizuhara intended to eventually sell these cards for profit.

The investigation also highlighted Mizuhara’s gambling activities, where he is said to have placed 19,000 bets resulting in a net loss of $40.7 million, with no bets linked to Major League Baseball games. The origins of the fraudulent activities trace back to 2018, when Mizuhara helped Ohtani, then new to the U.S. and non-English speaking, to open a bank account in Arizona, a relationship Mizuhara is accused of exploiting to facilitate unauthorized wire transfers.

U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada has publicly denounced Mizuhara’s actions, describing them as a gross misuse of trust for personal enrichment. Following his initial involvement in assisting Ohtani with his financial setups, Mizuhara is alleged to have impersonated Ohtani to authorize transfers to entities tied to his gambling habits.

Mizuhara’s legal representation comes as he prepares for his initial court appearance in Los Angeles, while Ohtani has cooperated fully with the investigation, denying any knowledge or involvement in Mizuhara’s actions. The case continues to develop as federal authorities piece together the full extent of the alleged fraud.

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