Shohei Ohtani

Text messages, big wagers and debt. Investigators detail charges against Shohei Ohtani's ex-interpreter

A criminal complaint written by an IRS senior special agent outlines substantial wagers, wins and losses in a sports wagering investigation that led to bank fraud charges against Ippei Mizuhara.


What to Know

  • Ippei Mizuhara faces federal bank fraud charges in the the theft of millions of dollars from the account of Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani.
  • In criminal complaint filed in support of the charges, Mizuhara is accused of placing about 19,000 wagers between December 2021 and January 2024.
  • He is accused of stealing $16 million from Ohtani's account to pay substantial sports wagering debts.

Shohei Ohtani's ex-interpreter placed a staggering number of bets using money stolen from a long-time friend and one of the world's most popular and well-paid athletes to support a "voracious appetite" for sports betting, according to federal prosecutors.

According to the criminal complaint filed in the gambling scandal, Ippei Mizuhara placed about 19,000 wagers between December 2021 and January 2024 with nearly 25 bets per day on average. The wagers ranged in value from roughly $10 to $160,000 per bet, with an average bet amount of roughly $12,800.

Mizuhara's winning bets totaled more than $142,256,000 and losing bets about $182,935,000. Total losses amounted to more than $40,679,000, the affidavit said.

The allegations against the 39-year-old Southern California man are outlined in a lengthy criminal complaint in support of federal bank fraud charges announced Thursday. He is accused of stealing $16 million from the baseball star's account to pay illegal sports wagering debts.

The complaint, written by an IRS senior special agent, cites wire transfers, text messages, phone records and interviews. In a text message to a bookmaker, Mizuhara admitted that he was stealing the money from Ohtani's account, prosecutors said.  The investigation into Mizuhara was part of a larger probe involving illegal gambling operations.

The complaint alleges that Mizuhara, a long-time friend of the two-time MVP, exploited his position of trust to fund his frequent and illegal sports betting.

"Mr. Mizuhara stole this money largely to finance his voracious appetite for illegal sports betting," said United States Attorney Martin Estrada.

The first unauthorized transfer from Ohtani's account appeared on Nov. 15, 2021 when $40,010 went to, identified in the complaint as a PayPal service, according to prosecutors. The debit transaction coincides with text messages between Mizuhara and a bookmaker discussing that amount, according to the court document.

By May 2023, the transfers increased to $500,000 each, authorities said. At one point, nearly 25 wagers were being placed per day with losses nearing $41 million.

The complaint includes a November 2023 text message in which one bookmaker told Mizuhara he may approach Ohtani.

“Hey Ippie, it's 2 o'clock on Friday," the message said. “I don't know why you're not returning my calls. I'm here in Newport Beach and I see (Ohtani) walking his dog. I'm just gonna go up and talk to him and ask how I can get in touch with you since you're not responding? Please call me back immediately.”

Prosecutors said during Thursday's news conference that there is no evidence Ohtani authorized the transfers from his account and characterized the baseball superstar as a victim in the case. Ohtani reportedly has been assisting authorities with the investigation. The New York Times reports that the Mizuhara is negotiating a plea deal.

The records do not indicate any bets on baseball.

League Rule 21 states that players and team employees are prohibited from placing wagers, even legal bets, on baseball and from wagering with illegal or offshore bookmakers. It also mentions the possible punishments, which may be largely left up to the league's front office.

A US attorney provides more information surrounding the investigation against Ippei Mizuhara, Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter. Macy Jenkins reports for the NBC4 News on April 11, 2024.

Timeline of events in the sports betting scandal

Mizuhara accompanied Ohtani to a bank branch in Arizona when they opened the account in 2018, with Mizuhara translating for Ohtani to set up the account. Ohtani’s salary was deposited into the account, prosecutors said, and he never gave Mizuhara control of the account or any of his other financial accounts, according to the affidavit.

Investigators believe Ohtani's earnings from endorsement deals and investments went to a different account.

Mizuhara later identified himself as Ohtani in communications with the bank, which allowed him to lift an online banking suspension on the account.

Mizuhara began gambling with an illegal sportsbook in 2021, according to prosecutors. Months later, he started losing "substantial" amounts of money and, at about the same time, contact information on Ohtani's bank account was changed to link it to Mizuhara's phone number and an anonymous email, prosecutors said.

U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said Shohei Ohtani is considered a victim in the case.

The scandal broke in mid-March after Mizuhara was fired for an alleged theft from Ohtani's bank accounts to cover illegal gambling losses. Those gambling debts were to an illegal bookmaker in Orange County who was under IRS investigation. The reports indicated millions were transmitted from Ohtani's bank account to the California bookie.

Mizuhara told ESPN on March 19 that Ohtani paid his gambling debts at the interpreter’s request, saying the bets were on international soccer, the NBA, the NFL and college football. But the following day, ESPN said Mizuhara dramatically changed his story, claiming Ohtani had no knowledge of the gambling debts and had not transferred any money to bookmakers.

Ohtani and his attorneys have maintained that he was completely unaware of the “massive theft" until the news came to light last month when the Dodgers were opening the season in South Korea against the San Diego Padres.

Major League Baseball launched its own investigation concurrent to the federal one by the IRS.

Ohtani has been playing throughout the investigation.

Mizuhara surrendered to law enforcement Friday morning and appeared for an initial court hearing. Bond was set at $25,000. Mizuhara surrendered his passport and was ordered not to contact Ohtani. Travel was restricted to the Central District of California, and he will need approval for international travel. Mizuhara also must begin gambling addiction treatment.

Attorney Michael Freedman was asked to comment as he and his client arrived for an initial court appearance. Freedman said a brief comment may be provided later Friday.

If you or someone you know has a gambling addiction, please call the National Council on Problem Gambling at 1-800-522-4700 to speak to a counselor. Help is also available via an online peer support forum at, and additional resources can be found at NCPG website.

Contact Us