Information on the federal case filed against Ippei Mizuhara, who was accused of illegally transferring over $16 million from Ohtani’s account and losing over $40 million in gambling between December 2021 and January 24.

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Ippei Mizuhara was charged with bank fraud by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California on Thursday for allegedly moving more than $16 million from Shohei Ohtani’s bank account without Ohtani’s knowledge.

 

Given that the felony accusation carries a possible penalty of 30 years in federal prison, it makes sense that Mizuhara would be actively pursuing a plea agreement.

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“Mizuhara is expected to appear in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles for his initial appearance in the near future,” according to a news statement from the U.S. Attorney.

 

Meghann Cuniff of Legal Affairs and Trials presented the federal lawsuit, and the specifics are astounding. Highlights of the accusations made against Mizuhara are as follows:

Ippei Mizuhara Charged With Stealing $16 Million From Shohei Ohtani

Mizuhara had a severe gambling addiction that led to debt. Mizuhara placed almost 19,000 bets between December 2021 and January 2024, or 25 bets on average every day, with an average stake of about $12,800. “The 35966 Records show total winnings of $142,256,769.74 and total losings of $182,935,206.68 during this time, resulting in a negative total net balance of $40,678,436.94.” Mizuhara utilised account 35966 to wager with an unlicensed bookmaker.

 

The allegation contains no proof that Mizuhara placed a baseball wager.

 

Ohtani received his MLB pay to a different bank account; the Angels paid him $30 million in 2023. Mizuhara is accused of making illicit transactions from this account; the transfers were traced back to IP addresses connected to Mizuhara.

 

“Mizuhara allegedly also telephoned the bank and falsely identified himself as Ohtani to trick bank employees into authorising wire transfers from Ohtani’s bank account to associates of the illegal gambling operation,” according to a news statement from the U.S. Attorney.

 

On March 25, the same day he issued his statement at Dodger Stadium accusing Mizuhara of stealing and lying, Ohtani gave permission for law enforcement to use his phone. The phone search revealed no proof that Ohtani had ever used it to access the disputed bank account, had been in touch with bookies, or had texted Mizuhara about her gambling debt.

 

During the last two days of the Dodgers homestand, on April 2 and 3, Ohtani was interrogated by federal investigators. It was discovered during the interview that Mizuhara was present when Ohtani opened the aforementioned bank account in 2018. As a “de facto manager,” Mizuhara “would drive [Ohtani], handle daily tasks for [Ohtani], and translate and manage certain of Victim A’s business and personal matters outside of MLB,” according to the lawsuit.

 

Ohtani’s agent, Nez Balelo, as well as a number of financial managers kept an eye on his other bank accounts. According to reports, his endorsement revenue in 2023 was $65 million. however, not the bank account that Mizuhara used to send money. According to the complaint:

 

Agent 1 spoke with MIZUHARA about the x5848 Account on several times, since she was aware of it. MIZUHARA informed Agent 1 that Victim A did not want anybody else to keep an eye on the x5848 Account since it was “private.” Agent 1 said he had no reason to doubt MIZUHARA’s statements, despite not having spoken with Victim A personally to verify them.

 

(Ohtani, the victim, is the complainant.)

 

This brings up the question of whether Mizuhara had any financial influence on Ohtani, primarily because the majority of interactions between Ohtani and his associates happened through Mizuhara.

 

According to the lawsuit, “Agent 1 did not speak directly to Victim A or regularly exchange text messages with Victim A,” and “Agent 1 did not hire an interpreter to communicate with Victim A because MIZUHARA always accompanied Victim A.” Rather, Agent 1 used MIZUHARA to deliver communications to Victim A.

 

Apart from using Ohtani’s accounts to reimburse Mizuhara for her gambling losses, the complaint claims that Mizuhara also utilised the account to purchase baseball cards valued at about $325,000 on eBay and Whatnot between January and March 2024, with the intention of reselling them at the Dodgers clubhouse.

 

This is pretty much how Mizuhara sees it, based on a text message exchange she had with the bookmaker on March 20, the day that the first reports of payments from Ohtani’s account to an unlicensed bookmaker in Orange County appeared at both ESPN and the Los Angeles Times:

 

“Have you seen the reports?” MIZUHARA asked BOOKMAKER 1 in a message. To which BOOKMAKER 1 said, “Yeah, but that’s all nonsense. You didn’t take from him, of course. I completely realise that it’s a cover job. BOOKMAKER 1 was then addressed by MIZUHARA, who said, “Technically, I did steal from him.” For me, it’s over.”

 

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