Shohei Ohtani's ex-interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, released on $25K bond after turning himself in to feds

Mizuhara is accused of stealing $16 million from the Los Angeles Dodgers star

Ippei Mizuhara, the former interpreter for Shohei Ohtani, turned himself in to federal authorities Friday after allegedly stealing $16 million from the Los Angeles Dodgers star.

Mizuhara made a federal court appearance on Friday afternoon in Los Angeles. He was reportedly in shackles around his ankles that were later removed during the hearing.

He did not enter a plea, and he was reportedly released on $25,000 bond. He will be held to numerous conditions, including that he can't contact Ohtani, he is prohibited from leaving the central district of California without permission, and he will be required to undergo a gamblers addiction program.

His arraignment hearing is reportedly scheduled for May 9 at 11:30 a.m. PT.

Mizuhara's attorney, Michael Freedman, later released a statement indicating that his client plans to strike a deal with the government quickly. He also said Mizuhara would like to apologize to Ohtani, among others. Via The Athletic's Sam Blum:

Today Mr. Mizuhara voluntarily surrendered, made his initial appearance, and was released on bond as agreed to with the government. He is continuing to cooperate with the legal process and is hopeful that he can reach an agreement with the government to resolve this case as quickly as possible so that he can take responsibility.

He wishes to apologize to Mr. Ohtani, the Dodgers, Major League Baseball, and his family. As noted in court, he is also eager to seek treatment for his gambling. We have no further comment at this time, but Mr. Mizuhara will be providing further comment as the legal process proceeds.

During a Thursday news conference, U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said Mizuhara was being charged with bank fraud after making unauthorized transfers from Ohtani's bank account between November 2021 and January 2024 to pay off his gambling debts with an illegal bookmaker.

Mizuhara also allegedly called the bank and falsely identified himself as Ohtani in order to fool the employees into authorizing the wire transfers from Ohtani's account to associates of the illegal gambling operation.

The New York Times reported Wednesday night that Mizuhara was in negotiations to plead guilty in connection to the alleged theft of Ohtani's money.

The bank fraud charge is a felony offense that carries a maximum fine of up to $1 million and/or up to 30 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Central District of California.

Shohei Ohtani: 'I'd like to focus on baseball'

The criminal complaint against Mizuhara explicitly identified Ohtani as a victim, a vindication for the phenom after weeks of unfounded speculation about his potential involvement in the illegal gambling.

Ohtani released a short statement before Friday's Dodgers game, thanking authorities and saying he'd like to move on, via Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times:

“I’m very grateful for the Department of Justice’s investigation. For me personally, this marks a break from this, and I’d like to focus on baseball.”

MLB commented on the situation earlier, releasing a statement Thursday afternoon:

“We are aware of the charges filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office against Mr. Mizuhara for bank fraud after a thorough federal investigation. According to that investigation, Shohei Ohtani is considered a victim of fraud and there is no evidence that he authorized betting with an illegal bookmaker. Further, the investigation did not find any betting on baseball by Mr. Mizuhara.

"Given the information disclosed today, and other information we have already collected, we will wait until resolution of the criminal proceeding to determine whether further investigation is warranted.”

'Technically I did steal from him. it’s all over for me.'

According to an affidavit, Mizuhara wired more than $16 million of unauthorized transfers from Ohtani's bank account from "devices and IP addresses associated with Mizuhara."

That bank account in Arizona was opened by Ohtani with Mizuhara's assistance in 2018. Mizuhara provided translation help while the account, which received Ohtani's MLB salary, was set up. Ohtani said via the affidavit that he never gave Mizuhara control of his financial accounts.

Text messages showed that after Mizuhara began losing large sums of money via gambling with an illegal sports book, the contact information on Ohtani’s bank account allegedly was changed and linked to an account with Mizuhara's phone number and to an anonymous email address connected to Mizuhara.

Mizuhara is also alleged to have purchased approximately 1,000 baseball cards via eBay and Whatnot at a cost of approximately $325,000 and had them mailed to himself under an alias and to the Dodgers' clubhouse.

Ohtani denied authorizing the wire transfers in an interview with investigators last week and provided his cellphone to verify that he was not aware of or involved in Mizuhara's illegal activities.

Ippei Mizuhara is accused of stealing $16 million from Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, File)
Ippei Mizuhara is accused of stealing $16 million from Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, File)

Ohtani 'a victim' in case

The Dodgers announced that Mizuhara had been fired from his role as Ohtani's interpreter in March amid claims from Ohtani's representation that Mizuhara stole funds. The amount was reported then to be roughly $4.5 million. Ohtani's representatives were reportedly quick to request a legal investigation into the scheme, and MLB opened its own investigation two days after Mizuhara's firing.

Ohtani broke his silence regarding the scandal on March 26, saying that he "never bet on baseball or any other sports."

“Mr. Ohtani is considered a victim in this case,” Estrada said during his news conference.

The probe into Mizuhara's actions was a joint effort led by the Los Angeles branch of the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal division, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. attorney’s office for the Central District of California. Prosecutors say they found evidence that Mizuhara had stolen more from Ohtani than the previously cited $4.5 million.

The initial allegations against Mizuhara surfaced while the Dodgers were in Seoul, South Korea, for the club's season-opening series against the San Diego Padres. Mizuhara was confronted by law enforcement officials upon his return to California, but he wasn't arrested.