Shohei Ohtani’s attorneys accuse interpreter of ‘massive theft’ tied to alleged gambling

soxhop411

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Representatives of Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani on Wednesday accused his interpreter of engaging in a “massive theft” of the ballplayer’s funds to place bets with an allegedly illegal bookmaker who is the target of a federal investigation.

Lawyers for Ohtani made that claim after The Times learned that Ohtani’s name had surfaced in the investigation of Mathew Bowyer, an Orange County resident. Ohtani’s representatives looked into the actions of the interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, in response to The Times’ queries, a source close to the matter said. Two sources told the newspaper that the money involved was in the millions of dollars.

In a statement, the West Hollywood law firm Berk Brettler, said, “In the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft and we are turning the matter over to the authorities.”
The Dodgers on Wednesday fired Mizuhara, a team spokesman said.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2024-03-20/gambling-story

This is going to become a international story in short order as more information comes out
 
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DennyDoyle'sBoil

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In related news, Shohei's representatives told the Times that after firing his interpreter and getting a new one, he was surprised to learn that "deferred" does not mean "right away."

Seriously, this is a weird story. "Your guy's money was used on sports betting, care to comment?" "We looked into it -- it's the interpreter." WTF? Maybe the interpreter had multiple roles including financial management or something? So strange.
 

Manramsclan

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By many accounts, Shohei and Ippei were friends. So this could get even worse for Ohtani potentially.
 

EvilEmpire

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Trust a buddy to manage my finances? No.
Trust a buddy to place bets for me and take the fall if necessary? Maybe.
 

SemperFidelisSox

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Maybe Shohei was using the interpreter to place bets but didn’t anticipate getting caught up in a separate investigation of this Mathew Bowyer guy.
 

soxhop411

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ESPN with some more info
The Los Angeles Dodgers interpreter for Shohei Ohtani was fired Wednesday afternoon after questions surrounding at least $4.5 million in wire transfers sent from Ohtani's bank account to a bookmaking operation set off a series of events.

Ippei Mizuhara, the longtime friend and interpreter for Ohtani, incurred the gambling debts to a Southern California bookmaking operation that is under federal investigation, multiple sources told ESPN. How he came to lose his job started with reporters asking questions about the wire transfers.

Initially, a spokesman for Ohtani told ESPN the slugger had transferred the funds to cover Mizuhara's gambling debt. The spokesman presented Mizuhara to ESPN for a 90-minute interview Tuesday night, during which Mizuhara laid out his account in great detail. However, as ESPN prepared to publish the story Wednesday, the spokesman disavowed Mizuhara's account and said Ohtani's lawyers would issue a statement.

"In the course of responding to recent media inquiries, we discovered that Shohei has been the victim of a massive theft, and we are turning the matter over to the authorities," read the statement from Berk Brettler LLP.

The spokesman declined to answer any further questions, and the statement did not specify whom they believe perpetrated the alleged theft.

When asked by ESPN on Wednesday afternoon -- after the Berk Brettler statement -- if he had been accused of theft, Mizuhara said he was told he could not comment but declined to say by whom.
The developments this week came as federal investigators are examining the operation run by Southern California bookmaker Mathew Bowyer. The wire-transfer payments were sent from Ohtani's account to an associate of Bowyer's, according to multiple sources and bank data reviewed by ESPN. Multiple sources, including Mizuhara, told ESPN that Ohtani does not gamble, and that the funds covered Mizuhara's losses.

ESPN had reviewed bank information showing Ohtani's name on two $500,000 payments sent last September and October.

While sports betting is legal in nearly 40 states, it remains illegal in California. Government-regulated sportsbooks require bettors to pay up front for their wagers, while illegal bookmakers accept bets on credit.

Sources close to the gambling operation told ESPN that Bowyer dealt directly with Mizuhara, who placed bets on international soccer matches and other sports -- but not baseball -- starting in 2021. A source said Bowyer was aware of the name on the wire transfers but chose not to ask any questions as long as payments came in; however, the source said Bowyer allowed people to believe Ohtani was a client in order to boost business.

Bowyer's attorney, Diane Bass, told ESPN: "Mr. Bowyer never met or spoke with Shohei Ohtani." She declined to answer any other questions.
In the Tuesday interview arranged by Ohtani's spokesman, Mizuhara, 39, told ESPN that he asked Ohtani last year to pay off his gambling debt, which multiple sources said had ballooned to at least $4.5 million. Mizuhara said that he previously had placed bets via DraftKings and assumed bets placed through Bowyer were legal.

"Obviously, he [Ohtani] wasn't happy about it and said he would help me out to make sure I never do this again," Mizuhara said. "He decided to pay it off for me."

"I want everyone to know Shohei had zero involvement in betting. I want people to know I did not know this was illegal. I learned my lesson the hard way. I will never do sports betting ever again."

But on Wednesday afternoon, Mizuhara told ESPN that Ohtani had no knowledge of his gambling debts and that Ohtani had not transferred money to the bookmaker's associate.
Mizuhara had a contract with the Los Angeles Angels when Ohtani played there and signed with the Dodgers this off-season. Mizuhara confirmed to ESPN he has been paid between $300,000 and $500,000 annually.

Mizuhara told ESPN on Tuesday his bets were on international soccer, the NBA, the NFL and college football.

"I never bet on baseball," Mizuhara said. "That's 100%. I knew that rule ... We have a meeting about that in spring training."

MLB players and employees are allowed to bet on sports other than baseball but not with illegal bookmakers or offshore websites. The league rulebook states that bets placed with illegal bookmakers are subject to punishment at the commissioner's discretion.

A Major League Baseball source told ESPN the league has not been contacted by federal authorities and was not aware of the situation until ESPN raised it in recent days. The source said MLB's next step would be to gather facts, which could take time in light of the ongoing federal investigation.
https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/39768770/dodgers-shohei-ohtani-interpreter-fired-theft
 

Gash Prex

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Just imagine his attorney’s abject horror at hearing the translator sat down with ESPN for 90 minutes with presumably the intent to “get ahead of this”
 

chrisfont9

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Hm this is bad. Ohtani agrees to cover his bets, in part because he knows Mizutani can't be trusted with any money, so he pays off an illegal book-maker in California. Then suddenly he's denying any knowledge -- someone probably explained that conspiring to conceal evidence of a crime is not a good idea (accessory after the fact? Crim law was 30 years ago). My guess is Ohtani isn't a degenerate gambler but he bungled his way into a legitimate legal problem.
 

glennhoffmania

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Half a million per year to translate and fuck around? I'll learn Japanese.

Also when Ohtani paid off his debt that's income to Mizuhara and I'm guessing he didn't report it.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Any idea what MLB punishment might be in store for Ohtani if they can pin the gambling on him?
Seems like they allow betting on sports other than baseball so they would have to nail him for betting illegally. That would be stupid to me -- given that legal bookmaking is a partner of all the leagues, but I suppose it could be serious.

To me the question here is not whether Ohtani bet on sports but on whether he paid a guy's illegal sports debts, and whether that violates MLB rules. The part of the story is really weird. An Ohtani spokesman makes the interpreter available for an interview to basically say that Ohtani paid his debts. The guy gives the interview. And then Ohtani changes stories and says, "no he stole it"? I mean, that does not pass the smell test to me. If the guy really stole the money, he's going to give an interview to ESPN and say Ohtani paid voluntarily, knowing that's a lie? I smell a rat.
 

chrisfont9

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Seems like they allow betting on sports other than baseball so they would have to nail him for betting illegally. That would be stupid to me -- given that legal bookmaking is a partner of all the leagues, but I suppose it could be serious.

To me the question here is not whether Ohtani bet on sports but on whether he paid a guy's illegal sports debts, and whether that violates MLB rules. The part of the story is really weird. An Ohtani spokesman makes the interpreter available for an interview to basically say that Ohtani paid his debts. The guy gives the interview. And then Ohtani changes stories and says, "no he stole it"? I mean, that does not pass the smell test to me. If the guy really stole the money, he's going to give an interview to ESPN and say Ohtani paid voluntarily, knowing that's a lie? I smell a rat.
It's not legal in California, that's the big problem. The bookie is an illegal gambling source.
 

Gash Prex

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It’s incredibly hard to believe this interpreter had the financial means to incur such substantial debts without Ohtani’s involvement - only plausible explanation without his direct involvement is the interpreter had direct access to the accounts (WTF) and accessed them without approval.

That seems to be the current “story” from Ohtani’s camp and why they disavowed the interpreters version to ESPN
 

Kliq

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The logical thing for MLB and Manfred to do here is to make Ohtani play basketball for a couple of years.
 

opes

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"I never bet on baseball".

If Ohtani pays off his debts, isn't that pretty close to the same thing? Pete Rose used bookies in the 80's and we all know what happened then. I personally cant believe Ohtani placed these bets, but he's one step removed from it essentially.
 

Brand Name

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Okay, personal fun experience here working for MLBN. Can't say it's the same policy for players but the video we used to watch every year also had links for umpires and players, possibly variations. I KNEW I should've watched those out of curiosity, instead of only just the MLBN employees option. Anyway. My policy when working there was simple and essentially boiled down to two key rules.

-No baseball, period. Any level, any league, any book.
-No offshore books. No matter the sport.

Illegal bookmaker to me from my current job would seem to imply offshore given my gambling experience and current line of work. That's a huge no-no for MLB, or at least it is if you work for MLBN. I don't know all the details in this case but I know what I lived, what they told me, etc. Not a perfect parallel but figure a damn close one that might forward the conversation a little.
 

radsoxfan

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What a bizarre bizarre story.

Makes you wonder if his odd 700M nearly all deferred contract was in some way related to this guy or other gambling stuff.

Maybe he just didn't want to have much money is in his accounts right now :)
 

Rovin Romine

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Overall, this looks fairly bad.

There might be an innocent explanation here but I'd guess the conflicting stories mean that MLB pretty much has to do an investigation at this point.

Okay, personal fun experience here working for MLBN. Can't say it's the same policy for players but the video we used to watch every year also had links for umpires and players, possibly variations. I KNEW I should've watched those out of curiosity, instead of only just the MLBN employees option. Anyway. My policy when working there was simple and essentially boiled down to two key rules.

-No baseball, period. Any level, any league, any book.
-No offshore books. No matter the sport.

Illegal bookmaker to me from my current job would seem to imply offshore given my gambling experience and current line of work. That's a huge no-no for MLB, or at least it is if you work for MLBN. I don't know all the details in this case but I know what I lived, what they told me, etc. Not a perfect parallel but figure a damn close one that might forward the conversation a little.
That would make sense for the players as well. You don't want a player heavily in debt to a bookie - if the bookie can then place bets on a MLB game which the player can influence.
 

soxhop411

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LA times story has been updated.. And yes, this is the same Gambling ring that ex-dodger Puig got caught in
Attempts to reach Mizuhara were unsuccessful. Mizuhara placed bets with Bowyer, according to the sources, who requested anonymity to share sensitive information.

The Dodgers on Wednesday fired Mizuhara, a team spokesman said.

One of the sources said that Mizuhara was not truthful when asked about The Times’ inquiries. He was still interpreting for Ohtani on Wednesday in Seoul.

Ohtani, a global sensation who signed a record 10-year, $700 million contract with the Dodgers in December after playing six years with the Angels, could not be reached for comment. He is with the Dodgers in Seoul for a season-opening series against the San Diego Padres.


Major League Baseball has not been contacted by prosecutors, a spokesman said.

Bowyer has not been charged with a crime, his attorney, Irvine-based Diane Bass said. Federal agents raided Bowyer’s San Juan Capistrano home last year as part of the investigation.

Bass told The Times that Bowyer never had contact with Ohtani. “Mathew Bowyer never met, spoke with, or texted, or had contact in any way with Shohei Ohtani,” she said.

The U.S. attorney’s office in L.A., which is overseeing the investigation, did not respond to requests for comment.
MLB gambling policy prohibits “any player, umpire, or Club or League official or employee” from betting on the game or making illegal bets on other sports. The punishment for gambling with an illegal bookmaker or their agent isn’t specified in MLB rules, but is left up to “such penalty as the Commissioner deems appropriate in light of the facts and circumstances of the conduct.”
The investigation into Bowyer involves the same prosecution team that has targeted a multimillion-dollar illegal sports gambling scheme anchored in Orange County, according to The Times’ sources and court records. At least a dozen people have been charged in that wider probe — including ex-Dodger Yasiel Puig, who has pleaded not guilty — that centered on a bookmaking operation led by former minor league baseball player Wayne Nix of Newport Beach, the records show.
Bowyer has appeared in numerous court filings over the years. That includes a $1.75 million judgment against him for defaulting on a line of credit — a “marker,” in gambling parlance — issued to him by Foxwoods Resort Casino, a tribal gaming hall in Connecticut. A tribal court imposed the judgment in April 2019; an attorney for the casino filed an application to enter the judgment in Orange County Superior Court in May 2023. The casino attorney said the judgment has not been satisfied.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2024-03-20/gambling-story

View: https://twitter.com/barry/status/1770574974484447522?

He has to go back to the Angels.
thats a violation of the Geneva Conventions
 

DJnVa

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He's the face of the league and best player. A major sports league would never punish the face of the league and its best player.
 

DeadlySplitter

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As others have already said, Ohtani seems to be a baseball rat, much like Ichiro. It's very hard to believe he would have a gambler personality.

Trying to cover for a friend who has that problem, financing that friend for awhile, and not fully realizing it would turn into a legal fiasco? That I can see, he seems very honorable / loyal. I have no idea what an appropriate punishment would be on the field, if any.
 

soxhop411

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Seems like they allow betting on sports other than baseball so they would have to nail him for betting illegally. That would be stupid to me -- given that legal bookmaking is a partner of all the leagues, but I suppose it could be serious.

To me the question here is not whether Ohtani bet on sports but on whether he paid a guy's illegal sports debts, and whether that violates MLB rules. The part of the story is really weird. An Ohtani spokesman makes the interpreter available for an interview to basically say that Ohtani paid his debts. The guy gives the interview. And then Ohtani changes stories and says, "no he stole it"? I mean, that does not pass the smell test to me. If the guy really stole the money, he's going to give an interview to ESPN and say Ohtani paid voluntarily, knowing that's a lie? I smell a rat.
Unless MLB wants its ass hauled into Congress ala BALCO/STEROID era, I feel like MLB is going to have to take this seriously. Sports are intertwined with gambling so much that it is impossible to watch any professional sport without being bombarded with gambling ads.. Re the bolded From ESPN

MLB gambling policy prohibits “any player, umpire, or Club or League official or employee” from betting on the game or making illegal bets on other sports. The punishment for gambling with an illegal bookmaker or their agent isn’t specified in MLB rules, but is left up to “such penalty as the Commissioner deems appropriate in light of the facts and circumstances of the conduct.

Given sports betting is illegal in CA is one that could come into play here
 
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ThePrideofShiner

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Trying to cover for a friend who has that problem, financing that friend for awhile, and not fully realizing it would turn into a legal fiasco? That I can see, he seems very honorable / loyal. I have no idea what an appropriate punishment would be on the field, if any.
I don't know that anyone really knows him - as far as the public is concerned. I mean, he got married and no one knew.

I know we all want him to be free and clear here, but there is a lot of weirdness with this story already and nothing would frankly surprise me.
 

luckysox

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As others have already said, Ohtani seems to be a baseball rat, much like Ichiro. It's very hard to believe he would have a gambler personality.

Trying to cover for a friend who has that problem, financing that friend for awhile, and not fully realizing it would turn into a legal fiasco? That I can see, he seems very honorable / loyal. I have no idea what an appropriate punishment would be on the field, if any.
How does he seem honorable, or dishonorable for that matter? How could we possibly know that?
 

djbayko

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As others have already said, Ohtani seems to be a baseball rat, much like Ichiro. It's very hard to believe he would have a gambler personality.

Trying to cover for a friend who has that problem, financing that friend for awhile, and not fully realizing it would turn into a legal fiasco? That I can see, he seems very honorable / loyal. I have no idea what an appropriate punishment would be on the field, if any.
How does this follow? I'm not getting it.

Would one possibly have called Charlie Hustle a "baseball rat" in 1980? MLB has a lot of different personalities -- even guys who get sexually aroused by beating women senseless. By this point, we should all realize that we don't really know the true person behind the celebrity facade. And that's assuming that gambling is an immoral activity, which is something that I would seriously challenge.
 
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scottyno

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Okay, personal fun experience here working for MLBN. Can't say it's the same policy for players but the video we used to watch every year also had links for umpires and players, possibly variations. I KNEW I should've watched those out of curiosity, instead of only just the MLBN employees option. Anyway. My policy when working there was simple and essentially boiled down to two key rules.

-No baseball, period. Any level, any league, any book.
-No offshore books. No matter the sport.

Illegal bookmaker to me from my current job would seem to imply offshore given my gambling experience and current line of work. That's a huge no-no for MLB, or at least it is if you work for MLBN. I don't know all the details in this case but I know what I lived, what they told me, etc. Not a perfect parallel but figure a damn close one that might forward the conversation a little.
NBA has a similar policy, probably every sport does. No offshore or illegal gambling and no betting at all on anything you're working or have insider info related to.
 

djbayko

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Okay, personal fun experience here working for MLBN. Can't say it's the same policy for players but the video we used to watch every year also had links for umpires and players, possibly variations. I KNEW I should've watched those out of curiosity, instead of only just the MLBN employees option. Anyway. My policy when working there was simple and essentially boiled down to two key rules.

-No baseball, period. Any level, any league, any book.
-No offshore books. No matter the sport.

Illegal bookmaker to me from my current job would seem to imply offshore given my gambling experience and current line of work. That's a huge no-no for MLB, or at least it is if you work for MLBN. I don't know all the details in this case but I know what I lived, what they told me, etc. Not a perfect parallel but figure a damn close one that might forward the conversation a little.
I'm surprised they didn't call out illegal / local bookies explictly. To me, they're several degrees worse than offshores in several different respects, if you're looking to keep the reputation of your organization pristine.
 

Brand Name

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I'm surprised they didn't call out illegal / local bookies explictly. To me, they're several degrees worse than offshores in several different respects, if you're looking to keep the reputation of your organization pristine.
Yeah, they did so, just thought it'd be a bit easier to explain this way at large. Important distinction to be sure though.
 

21st Century Sox

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To me, the story screams Ohtani is a gambler. Not a good one apparently, and terrible at covering his tracks. I hope it does not come out that he bet on baseball. The translator takes the fall, earns far more than translating paid. I imagine the MLB investigation just about finished. Lol
 

djbayko

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Yeah, they did so, just thought it'd be a bit easier to explain this way at large. Important distinction to be sure though.
Oh, sorry, I misread your post. Hasn't it already been confirmed that this was NOT an offshore bookie but instead an illegal/local bookie?
The developments this week came as federal investigators are examining the operation run by Southern California bookmaker Mathew Bowyer. The wire-transfer payments were sent from Ohtani's account to an associate of Bowyer's, according to multiple sources and bank data reviewed by ESPN.
 

Salem's Lot

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He's the face of the league and best player. A major sports league would never punish the face of the league and its best player.
Way too much money involved on two continents. This will be swept under the rug in short order.
 

BornToRun

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Way too much money involved on two continents. This will be swept under the rug in short order.
Yeah, I have trouble believing they’ll drop the hammer on Ohtani unless he ends up in real legal trouble. I mean, I’m here for the chaos, but I doubt they care about rules and integrity more than the massive piles of money Ohtani makes them.
 

Rovin Romine

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Way too much money involved on two continents. This will be swept under the rug in short order.
I think the opposite. The cat's out of the bag here and it's a major news story. With the increased financial pressure from legal gambling, there's an even stronger incentive here to dispel any rumors that baseball players can be on the hook to offshore gamblers and are throwing games to make good with them.