Ippei Mizuhara, Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter, agrees to plead guilty to bank fraud & tax fraud

A bit under a month ago, authorities revealed that they’d be charging Ippei Mizuhara, former interpreter and friend of current Dodgers player Shohei Ohtani, with bank fraud and other crimes connected with stealing Ohtani’s money. Now he’s expected to plead guilty to charges of bank fraud and subscribing to a false tax return after illegally obtaining $16,975,010 from Ohtani’s accounts, with the former charge carrying a 30-year maximum sentence and the latter carrying a three-year max. Due to Ippei’s lack of criminal history and the plea agreement, he’s looking at around 7-9 years of prison time.


Within the plea agreement and press release from the U.S. Attorney, there are more details into the case against Mizuhara:

  • Mizuhara made transfers of Ohtani’s money to associates of the bookmaker of $40,010 in November 2021, $300,000 in February 2022, 36 transfers for $15 million from February 2022 to October 2023, and three transfers for $1.25 million from December 2023 to January 2024.
  • Even after that date, Mizuhara used Ohtani’s money to buy $325,000 worth of baseball cards from January 2024 to March 2024 in order to sell them later for his own profit.
  • In order to make this scheme work, he impersonated Ohtani on 24 occasions in calls with the bank.
  • Mizuhara also admits to falsely claiming his income was $136,865 in 2022 when it was $4.1 million, as the source of the unreported income was linked with his fraud scheme. That’s the “subscribed to a false individual federal income tax return” part of this. He now admits to owing $1,149,400 in back taxes for 2022, plus additional interest and penalties.
  • Mizuhara will be required to pay $16,975,010, the amount of the theft, to Ohtani as well.
  • One notable inclusion, at least to me, was that in September of 2023, Mizuhara asked Ohtani for $60,000 to cover dental work. Ohtani gave him the money in a check, and Mizuhara then paid for that dental work with a debit card linked to Ohtani’s bank account, then deposited the check into his own bank account.

While there will always be conspiracy theorists around this because of the bizarre initial news about it, the last item in particular seems to disprove any of those angles. If Shohei was in on the betting or aware of Ippei’s debt, there would be no reason for Ippei to do all that, unless of course Ippei was actually just stealing money from Ohtani at seemingly every possible turn.

Additionally, in another weird detail, Ippei reportedly wired money to Real Housewives Of Orange County “star” Ryan Boyajian, who was his bookmaker’s associate.

As first reported by ESPN, and later detailed in the criminal complaint against Mizuhara, Mathew Bowyer, the illegal bookmaker under investigation, told the interpreter he could pay his gambling debts by wiring money into the account of Bowyer’s associate, known in the complaint as “Associate 1.”
That associate is Boyajian, who used the account with Bowyer for their real estate projects, according to the sources. Boyajian, 47, and Bowyer, 49, have been close friends and business associates for nearly 20 years. When Bowyer declared bankruptcy in 2011, court records show Boyajian loaned him $245,000.

All of this honestly gets more ridiculous with every detail revealed.


Anyway, Mizuhara’s arraignment is scheduled for May 14. As a part of Ippei’s plea, it’s expected he’ll be deported back to Japan due to not being a United States citizen after he serves his time.

The U.S. Attorney, who previously characterized Ohtani as a victim, alluded to him in a similar vein today.

“The extent of this defendant’s deception and theft is massive,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “He took advantage of his position of trust to take advantage of Mr. Ohtani and fuel a dangerous gambling habit. My office is committed to vindicating victims throughout our community and ensuring that wrongdoers face justice.”

Aside from changing teams, dealing with the weight of the contract and its expectations, and coming back from major surgery, to be dealing with this betrayal and all the fallout around it makes it especially ridiculous that Ohtani is still putting up MVP and Triple Crown numbers.

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