Shohei Ohtani’s Ex-Interpreter To Plead Guilty In $17 Million Embezzlement Case

Erik Gibbs

Stacks of hundred-dollar bills

Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani is doing an impressive job of staying focused on baseball. He’s leading MLB in batting average, is second in home runs, and has the second-shortest odds for National League MVP at all major sportsbooks — all while the fallout from the embezzlement scandal created by his former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, continues to make headlines. 

The latest chapter: As announced this week by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, Mizuhara has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges of bank fraud and tax evasion.

Mizuhara, who served as Ohtani’s interpreter and de facto manager during the player’s early years in the U.S., allegedly abused his position of trust and embezzled $17 million from Ohtani’s bank account. Prosecutors claim that Mizuhara, without Ohtani’s knowledge, diverted funds from the player’s bank account to settle his gambling debts. 

The agreement indicates that Mizuhara will be arraigned on May 14, when he is expected to formally admit guilt to the charges. It says that Mizuhara will have to pay restitution to Ohtani, which could total nearly the full amount he embezzled, as well as more than $1 million to the IRS. The IRS fine stems from Mizuhara having filed a false tax return in 2022, although the amounts of the fines may change prior to sentencing.

The bank fraud charge could result in a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison. The tax evasion charge carries a potential sentence of up to three years.  

Falling deeper and deeper

Mizuhara had been using an illegal bookmaking operation run by Mathew Bowyer to place his wagers. He sent the stolen funds to Bowyer to cover some of his losses. 

Notably, reports indicate Mizuhara steered clear of betting on baseball games.

Mizuhara allegedly exploited his initial role in setting up Ohtani’s bank account to orchestrate his scheme. This involved hijacking the security protocols, including the email and phone number linked to the account.

This rerouted any verification calls from the bank directly to Mizuhara, bypassing Ohtani completely. The plea agreement further alleges that Mizuhara impersonated Ohtani 24 times to authorize wire transfers, fueling his alleged gambling habit.

Reality TV makes an appearance in the scandal

The scandal extends beyond Mizuhara and Bowyer, according to new details reported by ESPN. Ryan Boyajian, a cast member on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Orange County, has been implicated as an associate in this scheme. 

ESPN’s sources told the media outlet that Mizuhara allegedly struck a deal with Bowyer. This involved funneling payments through an account Bowyer co-owned with Boyajian. Boyajian, who reportedly made a deal in exchange for immunity from prosecution in the case, then transferred the funds from that account to casinos, effectively laundering the embezzled money.

Rumors swirled around Vegas high rollers about Boyajian’s frequent gambling sprees with Bowyer at Resorts World Las Vegas and other casinos. Apparently, their hefty wagers translated into a lucrative situation for everyone involved.  

Casino hosts, whose commissions are tied to client spending, showered the duo with high-end “comps.”  These VIP perks could include anything from lavish meals and drinks to rounds of golf, tickets to coveted events, shopping sprees, luxurious suites, and even free chips with which to gamble.