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Japanese-Language Translator Charged in Complaint with Illegally Transferring More Than $16 Million from Baseball Player’s Account

U.S. Attorney’s Office, Central District of California

LOS ANGELES – A Japanese-language translator was charged today via federal criminal complaint with unlawfully transferring more than $16 million from a Major League Baseball (MLB) player’s bank account – without the player’s knowledge or permission – to pay off his own substantial gambling debts incurred with an illegal bookmaking operation.

Ippei Mizuhara, 39, of Newport Beach, is charged with bank fraud, a felony offense that carries a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison.

Mizuhara is expected to appear in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles for his initial appearance in the near future.

According to an affidavit filed with the complaint, from November 2021 to January 2024, Mizuhara wired more than $16 million in unauthorized transfers from a checking account belong to an MLB player identified in the affidavit as “Victim A,” who in fact is MLB star Shohei Ohtani. The transfers from this bank account allegedly were made from devices and IP addresses associated with Mizuhara, who served as Ohtani’s translator and de facto manager.

In 2018, Mizuhara accompanied Ohtani, who didn’t speak English, to a bank branch in Arizona to assist Ohtani in opening the account and translated for Ohtani when setting up the account details. Ohtani’s salary from playing professional baseball was deposited into this account and he never gave Mizuhara control of this or any of his other financial accounts, according to the affidavit. Mizuhara allegedly told Ohtani’s U.S.-based financial professionals, none of whom spoke Japanese, that Ohtani denied them access to the account.

In September 2021, Mizuhara began gambling with an illegal sports book and, several months later, started losing substantial sums of money, the affidavit states. During this time, the contact information on Ohtani’s bank account allegedly was changed to link the account to Mizuhara’s phone number and to an anonymous email address connected to Mizuhara.

Mizuhara allegedly also telephoned the bank and falsely identified himself as Ohtani to trick bank employees into authorizing wire transfers from Ohtani’s bank account to associates of the illegal gambling operation.

From January 2024 to March 2024, he also allegedly used this same account to purchase via eBay and Whatnot approximately 1,000 baseball cards – at a cost of approximately $325,000 – and had them mailed to Mizuhara under an alias, “Jay Min,” and mailed to the clubhouse for Ohtani’s current MLB team.

In an interview last week with law enforcement, Ohtani denied authorizing 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.

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

IRS Criminal Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations are investigating this matter.

Assistant United States Attorneys Jeff Mitchell of the Major Frauds Section, Dan Boyle of the Environmental Crimes and Consumer Protection Section, and Rachel N. Agress of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section are prosecuting this case.


Ciaran McEvoy
Public Information Officer
[email protected]
(213) 894-4465

Updated April 11, 2024
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