Former Ohtani interpreter Mizuhara faces federal charge after allegedly stealing $16 million from the baseball superstar

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Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his then interpreter Ippei Mizuhara arrive at a game against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch on February 27, 2024 in Glendale, Arizona.

Los Angeles

Ippei Mizuhara, the former voice of baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani, will face a federal charge of bank fraud for allegedly stealing more than $16 million from Ohtani, the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles announced Thursday.

U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said Mizuhara made unauthorized transfers from Ohtani’s bank account from November 2021 to January 2024. According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mizuhara used his close relationship with Ohtani – someone ‘one he constantly accompanied due to the Japanese star’s limited understanding of English – to fuel his gambling addiction.

Estrada said Ohtani was “considered a victim in this case” and that there was no evidence to suggest Ohtani was actively involved.

“Our investigation revealed that because of the position of trust he held with Mr. Ohtani, Mr. Mizuhara had unique access to Mr. Ohtani’s finances,” Estrada said. “Mr Mizuhara used and abused this position of trust in order to take advantage of Mr Ohtani.

Mizuhara was fired last month after Ohtani’s lawyers accused him of stealing from Ohtani and placing bets with a bookmaker that is under federal investigation. Ohtani later alleged that Mizuhara stole the money from one of his bank accounts.

Prosecutors now believe Mizuhara may have stolen money from Ohtani beyond the $4.5 million Mizuhara was initially accused of taking, three people with knowledge of the matter told the New York Times.

The allegations became public while the Dodgers were in South Korea for an MLB season-opening series in March. ESPN and the Los Angeles Times reported that Ohtani’s lawyers accused Mizuhara of “massive theft” of millions of dollars and betting with a bookmaker under federal investigation.

Mizuhara was fired while the team was in Seoul.

Ohtani, who signed baseball’s richest contract with the Dodgers in the offseason, categorically denied betting on sports or paying a sportsbook.

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

CNN’s Joe Sutton contributed to this report.

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