Home NewsE-Sports Feds claim Ohtani was “considered as a victim”, and that an interpreter took $16m for Ohtani’s gambling debts.

Feds claim Ohtani was “considered as a victim”, and that an interpreter took $16m for Ohtani’s gambling debts.

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According to an affidavit that IRS criminal investigator Chris Seymour filed on Thursday, 11 April in the US District Court of California for the Central District of California, former baseball interpreter Ippei Mzuhara transferred fraudulently $16m over a 26-month period from Shohei Ahtani’s baseball account to unauthorized bookmakers.

The affidavit states that Mizuhara sent the bookmaker a text message saying, “Technically, I stole from him.” The day after the first report, Mizuhara texted the bookmaker: “Technically I did steal from him.”

The New York Times reports that Mizuhara has been negotiating a plea agreement.

Major League Baseball issued a statement stating that they “will await the conclusion of the criminal proceedings to determine if further investigation is required”.

Ohtani has been claiming that since the 20th March story, he, the Japanese two-way baseball player who signed the richest baseball contract in the off-season. The filing on Thursday seems to confirm that Ohtani was a victim.

Mizuhara’s gambling is part of an investigation larger than that.

Mizuhara was Ohtani’s manager, and he handled his daily tasks. His lawyer, ESPN reports, declined to comment on Thursday.

The federal government is investigating a large illegal betting ring that has ties with former Minor League Baseball player Wayne Nix. The affidavit does not name Nix or Mathew BOWYER, an illegal Orange County bookmaker that allegedly accepted Mizuhara’s bets. Bowyer’s identity is revealed by the details of the affidavit, even though he has not been named.

The affidavit of an IRS criminal investigative officer shows text messages sent by Ippei mizuhara, asking an illegal bookie to increase his credit limit.

Seymour reported that the investigation has resulted “in criminal charges or convictions for 12 criminal defendants, and 1 money-service company”. Investigation is still ongoing.

Seymour explains in the affidavit how Mizuhara altered Ohtani’s contact details to Mizuhara’s email and cell number. Mizuhara “falsely identifies himself” with bank authorities, and tells Ohtani’s financial advisors the baseballer is preventing them from accessing his account.

Mizuhara set up the account in which Ohtani’s Los Angeles Angels salary had been deposited. Mizuhara used Ohtani’s money to pay off his debt and fund gambling, but the former interpreter deposited his winnings into his account.

Gambling has quickly become out of control

The affidavit states that the interpreter started gambling in September of 2021 and began quickly to accumulate debt. The interpreter did not wager on baseball but on other sports.

Mizuhara had already been having problems with his debts as early as November 20, 21. In some instances, he was unable to write money and PayPal attempts were cancelled. Mizuhara described the experience as “super stressful”.

Mizuhara was unable to pay his bookmaker but the bookmaker still extended credit to him and offered free play options. Mizuhara had often requested an increase in his credit limit, but in March 2022 he asked that it be lowered to $100,000. He said he was “too reckless” with $300.

Mizuhara was already in serious trouble by November 2023. Text records show that. The bookmaker demanded payment. He replied that he’d “lost a large amount of money in crypto”, and “taken a big hit with sports as well”. The bookmaker was also asked if the player could pay.

According to his affidavit, Mizuhara wagered an average wager of $12,800. Mizuhara bet between $10 and $160,000, with an average bet of $25 per day. Mizuhara won $142.3m on winning bets but lost $182.9m, leaving him in debt of $40.7m.

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