Home NewsTechnology Mizuhara admits to taking $17m to settle gambling debts from Ohtani

Mizuhara admits to taking $17m to settle gambling debts from Ohtani

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Ippei MIZUHARA, a former Shohei Ohtani translator, pleaded guilty on Tuesday morning (4th June) to two federal charges of stealing 17 million dollars from Ohtani. Mizuhara quickly fell into debt to an illegal bookmaker. The 25th of October is the date set for his sentencing.

Mizuhara told the judge, John A Holcomb, in a dark suit, with a shirt untucked and without ties: “I was working for victim A, and I had access to all of his accounts. I had fallen into major gambling debt. It was only possible to do so by sending money to the bookmaker from the account of Victim A.

Mizuhara pleaded guilty then to one count each of bank fraud, and subscribing a false tax return. Maximum penalty is 33-years in prison, plus a fine of $1.5m. The proceedings on Tuesday took place in the Ronald Reagan Federal Building and Court House, Santa Ana, California. Prior court appearances took place at the Roybal Federal complex downtown Los Angeles.

Holcomb can use this pre-sentencement packet as a guide at the sentencing.

Over 100 journalists were present outside and in the courtroom, temporarily blocking Santa Ana 4th Street. Mizuhara only spoke in the courtroom and answered Holcomb’s question. Michael Freedman refused to make any comments despite being literally surrounded with media when they left the courthouse.

Mizuhara surrendered himself to federal agents in April after it was revealed that he stole $17m ($17m) from Ohtani for gambling debts. Mizuhara may have bet with Mathew bowyer, even though he was not named in the Wayne Nix gambling cases. Bowyer, who is based in Orange County and has been under federal investigation but not charged, also lives there.

Nix will be sentenced this September. Scott Sibella, a former Las Vegas casino executive was sentenced on 9 May to a year’s probation and $9.500 in fines. Sibella did not file a report of suspicious activity when Nix played at MGM Grand where Sibella was employed. Nix was allowed to purchase a casino marker worth $120,000 in cash by Nix.

Double dipping for Mizuhara dental work

Mizuhara will face a harsher punishment. In court, he admitted that he lied about Ohtani. Mizuhara lied about Ohtani to Ohtani’s agents, Ohtani’s financial managers, and a bank in Arizona. Mizuhara, according to US Attorney Jeff Mitchell impersonated Ohtani during 24 telephone calls made with the bank. “He regularly logged into (Ohtani’s account) and made wire transfers”, according to US Attorney Jeff Mitchell.

Early in the investigation, federal authorities designated Ohtani a victim. MLB released a press release after Mizuhara’s guilty verdict, claiming that Ohtani was a victim of fraud.

Mizuhara spent some of the 16,975,010 dollars he took from Ohtani’s account on other items. Mitchell stated that “Victim B” had agreed to pay $60,000 for dental work by September 2023, and “drew out a check”. Mizuhara used Ohtani’s debit card to make the payment for the dental treatment and then deposited the check into his account. Mitchell said Mizuhara also used Ohtani’s money to purchase Yogi, Juan Soto, and Ohtani Baseball Cards on eBay and WhatNot. Mizuhara planned to resell the cards for a profit.

Mitchell claimed that Mizuhara had lied throughout the entire deception to Ohtani’s agents, financial advisers, and sports agents. Mizuhara claimed Ohtani had told him that the accounts were private.

The next step is sentencing

Holcomb welcomed the crowd but warned that recordings were prohibited. Holcomb then asked Mizuhara if he was fit to face trial, and what rights Mizuhara waived when he pleaded guilty. Holcomb said to Mizuhara, before addressing the agreement of plea, “All I will have left in your case, is that you receive a sentence, which could include prison.”

Total offense for Mizuhara is 29. The level can be reduced up to four points because Mizuhara has a criminal record of zero and is cooperating with the authorities.

Mizuhara must also pay Ohtani restitution in addition to any possible prison sentences and fines. In addition to the $1.15m in additional taxes, he will also be required to pay interest and penalties.

MLB has a tough stretch ahead

Major League Baseball has had a tough few weeks in terms of gambling. MLB began a gambling investigation on 17 May into the former Ohtani teammates David Fletcher, and Cody Schultz. Fletcher is currently a player for the Atlanta Braves, and Schultz was formerly a minor leaguer. ESPN stated that Fletcher did bet, but not on baseball. ESPN reported that Schultz bet on Angels matches in which Fletcher was playing. According to ESPN, he is “Bookmaker 3”, in the federal complaint that was the basis of the Mizuhara case.

On Monday, The Wall Street Journal published a report stating that MLB has opened an independent gambling investigation against San Diego Padres’ shortstop Tucupita Marcos and four other minor league players. The WSJ said that Marcano bet on baseball while he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

MLB prohibits betting on baseball. Marcano was banned for life by the MLB just hours before Mizuhara appeared in court on June 4. The league claims that Marcano placed 231 MLB wagers including 25 on the Pirates while he was active.

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