Federal affidavit contends Ippei Mizuhara stole $16 million from Shohei Ohtani

Turns out translator Ippei Mizuhara didn’t steal $4.5 million from Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani.

Mizuhara allegedly stole more than $16 million. He will be accused of bank fraud.

This is the argument in the affidavit filed Thursday in a criminal complaint signed by FBI Special Agent Chris Seymour.

From December 2021 to January 2024, Mizuhara reportedly made an average of 25 bets per day. Bets ranged from $10,000 to $160,000, with the average stake being around $12,800. There is no record of him betting on baseball games.

Wins totaled $142,256,769.74 and losses totaled $182,935,206.68. Losses amounted to more than $40 million.

It is unclear where the remaining $24 million came from and whether it was ever paid.

Mizuhara allegedly sometimes posed as Ohtani in order to obtain money from his bank accounts.

Perhaps the most important paragraph in the 36-page affidavit is its last: “On or about March 20, 2024, MIZUHARA sent a message to BOOKMAKER 1 stating: ‘Have you seen the reports?’ BOOKMAKER 1 replied: “Yes, but that’s just bullshit. Obviously you didn’t steal it. I understand this is a cover job, I completely understand. MIZUHARA then responded to BOOKMAKER 1, “Technically I stole it. It’s over for me.’

Authorities use this response as conclusive proof that Mizuhara stole money from Ohtani. But what does it mean for Mizuhara to say, “Technically, I stole it”? Why “technically”?

Perhaps this is something that will be revealed as part of Mizuhara’s defense. And there may still be one. Last night, Mizuhara reportedly negotiated a plea deal. If a plea deal were to be reached, there was no reason for a 36-page affidavit to be filed and released.

There’s a chance – and right now it’s just a chance – that Mizuhara executes a predetermined cover designed to protect Ohtani. It remains to be seen whether Mizuhara will continue to stick with this story once he realizes how long he might end up spending in federal custody.

I only say this because: (1) the bookmaker said “it’s a cover job”; and (2) Mizuhara replied, “Technically, I stole it.”

What did he mean by “technically”? This could be the key to determining whether Ohtani ultimately has a problem with Major League Baseball.

The affidavit concludes that Ohtani had no knowledge of the betting Mizuhara was engaged in because Mizuhara’s phone showed no evidence of conversations with Ohtani regarding gambling, bookmakers or odds, and that the phone by Ohtani (which had been intentionally produced for research purposes) contained no evidence of gambling or communicating with any of the bookmakers used by Mizuhara. While many people neglect their digital footprints, it’s not impossible that Ohtani and Mizuhara limit their communications on the gaming issue to face-to-face conversations or phone calls, without any text messages or other digital footprints dating back to Ohtani.

They could also have used burner phones.

One more thing, along the same lines. The affidavit (as mentioned above) specifically states that Mizuhara never bet on baseball. If he were going to break Major League Baseball rules and California law by betting on a wide range of sports (including, among others, college football), why not bet on baseball? If all was revealed, he was destined to be fired by the Dodgers anyway.

The decision to stay away from baseball betting could actually reinforce the idea that Ohtani financed the effort and was at least tangentially and at most intimately involved in it. Common sense suggests that Mizuhara would not have avoided betting on baseball to protect himself. He would have done it to protect Ohtani.

If — and the key word continues to be if — it turns out that the bookmaker’s assessment of a “cover job” is accurate, Ohtani will now have a bigger problem than Major League Baseball discipline. He told federal authorities that Mizuhara stole from him. If that doesn’t happen, Ohtani could be charged with lying to federal agents.

Again, as of now, Ohtani is not charged with anything. If/when Mizuhara mounts a vigorous defense, it is possible that Mizuhara will claim that this was indeed a “cover job” and that he would still be the rusher.

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