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

ColdSoxPack

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The game story in the 4-3 LA Times is even a bigger piece of fiction:

"The official folks in the yellow windbreakers scrambled into the right field pavilion — high and deep into the pavilion, following the arc of the ball. Shohei Ohtani had his first home run as a Dodger, and Team Yellow Windbreaker was on a mission to secure the milestone ball."

"Team Yellow Windbreaker delivered the fan who caught Ohtani’s home run to Ohtani himself, who happily swapped a bat, a ball, two caps and a few moments of conversation with the fan for what he called “a very special ball.”

Whoops.

edit: The game story was from 4-3.
 
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ColdSoxPack

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Per The Athletic, just now: "A Dodgers official said Ambar Roman and her husband, Alexis Valenzuela, have been invited to an on-field experience at Dodger Stadium. The team also said it will review its ballpark processes for retrieving milestone baseballs."
 

beautokyo

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Per The Athletic, just now: "A Dodgers official said Ambar Roman and her husband, Alexis Valenzuela, have been invited to an on-field experience at Dodger Stadium. The team also said it will review its ballpark processes for retrieving milestone baseballs."
I'd get a lawyer......you know....an Ambulance chaser just for the heck of it. More social media.....really make it a bigger mess than the Dodgers already have. Just talk about the strong arm tactics.
 

Bergs

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I actually don't get this. Other than the fact that it's Ohtani's first HR as a Dodger, the ball is worthless to anyone but Ohtani. I wonder what the woman considers to be a fair offer and what the lowball offer was.
I know this has been covered, but I'm amazed YTF posted this.

In related news, don't throw away baseball cards, comic books, old stereo equipment, vintage vinyl records, or stacks of cash.
 

YTF

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I know this has been covered, but I'm amazed YTF posted this.

In related news, don't throw away baseball cards, comic books, old stereo equipment, vintage vinyl records, or stacks of cash.
Yeah, let me walk that back a little bit. Worthless was a poor way to phrase this. My point being it wasn't Ohtani's 1st HR nor was it the last of an illustrious career. It wasn't a record setter or record breaker, it wasn't even what MOST of us might consider a milestone HR. #172 IMO the "worth" of this ball is pretty much what it's worth to Ohtani. I've no issue with either side negotiating an exchange, it's just the whole idea of who gets to decide what it's worth and is it worth more to the woman in possession of the ball because it has a personal "worth" to Ohtani? What's a low-ball offer? You and I came to what I thought was a fair and quick agreement on something that you had interest in. Part of that was the fact that I was happy to pass it along to someone and had no desire to try to get anything more than what had been offered. My guess is that Ohtani's not trying to "low-ball" because he plans to flip the ball for a profit. In my mind it has a type of value to him that it doesn't to anyone else. I've no idea what was asked or offered for the ball and if the woman in possession of it wants to get whatever she can from whoever she can, all the power to her. I honestly don't care who ends up with the ball as I find the whole thing a bit off putting.
 
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snowmanny

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The Dodgers were really obnoxious. And I say this as someone who thinks historic baseballs should somehow get to the player or the HOF.

But this baseball has more monetary value than it does historic value. Or even sentimental value. Who even heard of saving the ball from your first home run with your second team? Did Betts do that? Is Aaron’s first home run ball with the Brewers in a museum somewhere?

In my mind it’s about as historic as, say, Aaron Judge’s 55th home run in 2022.

It is icky to me because I am guessing that the driving force in retrieving it was that it is worth a lot of money, and the driving force was decidedly not that Ohtani is going to cherish having it, or that folks are going to go out of their way to gaze at it.

edit- and I should add that the Dodgers knew the monetary value of the ball and the patron did not, which makes any “negotiation” unethical.
 

simplicio

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I mean the Dodgers did give it to Ohtani right?

I'm guessing it's less a matter of an organizational mandate than the "negotiation" team trying to feel a sense of self-importance by retrieving a ball for their new superstar.
 

Jace II

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Why would the Feds want a plea deal if this was super cut-and-dried? Maybe he'll help them charge the bookie.
 

Cellar-Door

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Why would the Feds want a plea deal if this was super cut-and-dried? Maybe he'll help them charge the bookie.
they're not looking to arrest the gamblers, they want the bookies and any associated criminal enterprises... also to seize the cash and get the IRS' cut. As to the (alleged) theft.. basically everything is guilty pleas and settlements nowadays, the time and expense of trials is generally not worth it for non-violent crimes, plead guilty for a reduced sentence, agree to pay restitution... move on, save everyone involved on the government side thousands of hours that can be used on more important investigations/trials.
 

Jace II

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they're not looking to arrest the gamblers, they want the bookies and any associated criminal enterprises... also to seize the cash and get the IRS' cut. As to the (alleged) theft.. basically everything is guilty pleas and settlements nowadays, the time and expense of trials is generally not worth it for non-violent crimes, plead guilty for a reduced sentence, agree to pay restitution... move on, save everyone involved on the government side thousands of hours that can be used on more important investigations/trials.
Makes sense, but it can't be an "alleged" theft at this point, can it? Mizuhara must be confirming it rather than denying, otherwise presumably Ohtani would have lied to the FBI (since apparently he's spoken to investigators at this point). So I assume Mizuhara is pleading guilty to some kind of theft or wire fraud charge.
 

Cellar-Door

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Makes sense, but it can't be an "alleged" theft at this point, can it? Mizuhara must be confirming it rather than denying, otherwise presumably Ohtani would have lied to the FBI (since apparently he's spoken to investigators at this point). So I assume Mizuhara is pleading guilty to some kind of theft or wire fraud charge.
Well it's alleged until he pleads, but mostly I was making a fall guy joke.
 

mauf

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Why would the Feds want a plea deal if this was super cut-and-dried? Maybe he'll help them charge the bookie.
As others have said, the feds’ focus here is the people running an illegal gambling ring. Gamblers usually aren’t prosecuted solely for placing bets. On the theft issue, whatever outcome is acceptable to the victim (Ohtani) will be acceptable to the feds, so long as Mizuhara cooperates with the gambling investigation.
 

BaseballJones

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So is MLB actually doing an investigation too, or if the feds say that the interpreter stole money from Ohtani Will they just go, oh ok, nothing else to see here?

Because it’s entirely possible that he stole money from Ohtani AND Ohtani bet on baseball.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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So is MLB actually doing an investigation too, or if the feds say that the interpreter stole money from Ohtani Will they just go, oh ok, nothing else to see here?

Because it’s entirely possible that he stole money from Ohtani AND Ohtani bet on baseball.
There's no incentive for MLB to dig further if the interpreter pleads guilty to theft. They will be very, very happy to blame it all on him and not bring disrepute to the biggest superstar in the game.
 

YTF

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So is MLB actually doing an investigation too, or if the feds say that the interpreter stole money from Ohtani Will they just go, oh ok, nothing else to see here?

Because it’s entirely possible that he stole money from Ohtani AND Ohtani bet on baseball.
This has become a pretty high profile case in which Ohtani has neither been accused nor charged with a crime. Being such a case I would assume that part of MLB's investigation will rely heavily on any information that the feds share with them as it seems that both sides would be cooperating in this effort. For their purposes, if MLB is satisfied that Ohtani had no ties to this bookie or any illegal betting or that his only role in this (if indeed he had any role at all) is that he knowingly paid off Mizaharu's debts and the feds declined to file any charges then I think it's pretty much case closed.
 

changer591

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The real question is how many people will continue any sort of narrative that Ohtani bet on baseball besides there being no actual evidence of him having done so. Based on the fact that there are already comments about the interpretor being a fall guy or this doesn't prove that Ohtani didn't bet on baseball and that the investigation would be lessened because it's against the best interests of MLB leads me to believe that there will be many people still wholly unconvinced and onboard with conspiracy theories.
 

Average Reds

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The real question is how many people will continue any sort of narrative that Ohtani bet on baseball besides there being no actual evidence of him having done so. Based on the fact that there are already comments about the interpretor being a fall guy or this doesn't prove that Ohtani didn't bet on baseball and that the investigation would be lessened because it's against the best interests of MLB leads me to believe that there will be many people still wholly unconvinced and onboard with conspiracy theories.
The bolded is simply false.

You may not find it compelling, but the fact that millions of dollars was wired from Othani’s account to an illegal bookie - while not dispositive - is absolutely evidence.
 
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Tokyo Sox

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The bolded is simply false.

You may not find it compelling, but the fact that Othani wired millions of dollars to an illegal bookie - while not dispositive - is absolutely evidence.
If you’re going to tell him that he is making false statements, your wording should be better. Because it seems like we’re on the verge of all of Ohtani, Mizuhara, and various federal investigative bodies agreeing that Ohtani, in fact, did no such thing.
 

Average Reds

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If you’re going to tell him that he is making false statements, your wording should be better. Because it seems like we’re on the verge of all of Ohtani, Mizuhara, and various federal investigative bodies agreeing that Ohtani, in fact, did no such thing.
I was actually very careful with the words I used.

Whether he is charged or implicated by authorities or not, claiming that there is “no actual evidence” is simply false.

Edit: let me be very specific. The discovery that millions of dollars was wired from Othani’s bank account to an illegal bookie is significant evidence. The fact that there may be an explanation does not mean it is not evidence.

I should also add that I’m not claiming that Othani bet on anything. But, without a compelling explanation of how the interpreter was able to access Othani’s accounts and wire the money without him knowing, I’ll withhold judgement about what happened.
 
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Rovin Romine

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The real question is how many people will continue any sort of narrative that Ohtani bet on baseball besides there being no actual evidence of him having done so. Based on the fact that there are already comments about the interpretor being a fall guy or this doesn't prove that Ohtani didn't bet on baseball and that the investigation would be lessened because it's against the best interests of MLB leads me to believe that there will be many people still wholly unconvinced and onboard with conspiracy theories.
I think it's already been explained to you multiple times that the evidence of Ohtani betting (on anything) is the fact that $4.5M was wired from his bank accounts to an illegal bookie.

The question is now about the particulars of those transactions. What specifically happened? Did Ohtani authorize it or know? Should he have known? Why or why not? Those are things both federal investigators and MLB investigators will look at.

Ohtani has publicly said not much about this, only that "money was stolen." How much, and under what circumstances we don't yet know.

However, per the ESPN article linked above:
The Times reported Wednesday that prosecutors have uncovered evidence that Mizuhara may have stolen more money from Ohtani than the $4.5 million initially reported. Mizuhara changed the settings on Ohtani's bank account so Ohtani would not receive alerts or confirmations about transactions, the Times reported.
If that proves true, it would go a long way to explaining why Ohtani wasn't personally responsible for Ohtani's money being wired from his bank accounts to an illegal bookie.

As far as conspiracy theories go, I can't say, beyond that blanket statements like the one I underlined will probably keep the conversation going, and thus encourage them. YMMV.
 

Average Reds

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I think it's already been explained to you multiple times that the evidence of Ohtani betting (on anything) is the fact that $4.5M was wired from his bank accounts to an illegal bookie.
Thank you. I don’t understand why people keep wishing away facts they do not like.

As far as conspiracy theories go, I can't say, beyond that blanket statements like the one I underlined will probably keep the conversation going, and thus encourage them. YMMV.
Also a good point.
 

Tokyo Sox

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I was actually very careful with the words I used.

Whether he is charged or implicated by authorities or not, claiming that there is “no actual evidence” is simply false.

Edit: let me be very specific. The discovery that millions of dollars was wired from Othani’s bank account to an illegal bookie is significant evidence. The fact that there may be an explanation does not mean it is not evidence.

I should also add that I’m not claiming that Othani bet on anything. But, without a compelling explanation of how the interpreter was able to access Othani’s accounts and wire the money without him knowing, I do believe that he was covering his friend’s debts. (Which was the original story put out by his crisis PR team.)
You’re free to believe what you like, I just wanted to draw a distinction between saying there’s evidence Ohtani wired money as you did initially, and saying that money was wired from his account. The former is in dispute, the latter is not.
 

Average Reds

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You’re free to believe what you like, I just wanted to draw a distinction between saying there’s evidence Ohtani wired money as you did initially, and saying that money was wired from his account. The former is in dispute, the latter is not.
That is a fair point and I will amend the initial post.
 

Tokyo Sox

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However, per the ESPN article linked above:

The Times reported Wednesday that prosecutors have uncovered evidence that Mizuhara may have stolen more money from Ohtani than the $4.5 million initially reported. Mizuhara changed the settings on Ohtani's bank account so Ohtani would not receive alerts or confirmations about transactions, the Times reported.
If that proves true, it would go a long way to explaining why Ohtani wasn't personally responsible for Ohtani's money being wired from his bank accounts to an illegal bookie.
Sorry can you explain what you mean here — if the number was much higher, it is more likely to exonerate Ohtani? Or am I reading you wrong?
 

mauf

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Sorry can you explain what you mean here — if the number was much higher, it is more likely to exonerate Ohtani? Or am I reading you wrong?
@Rovin Romine can speak for himself, but if there’s evidence that money was stolen from Ohtani for other purposes, that tends to show that the money that was wired to the bookie was also stolen from Ohtani, as opposed to being sent with Ohtani’s blessing to cover someone’s gambling debts. On the other hand, if every other aspect of Ohtani’s affairs was handled scrupulously, it would be a little harder to explain why this one transaction with the bookie was unauthorized. (Not impossible, just harder.)
 

Rovin Romine

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Thank you. I don’t understand why people keep wishing away facts they do not like.
Post-truth world, confirmation bias, inability to adapt an opinion or withhold judgment?

I don't want to come down too harshly on the poster upthread. And back in my younger days, I would have thought the following to be pandering. But it's really the sign of a healthy adult mind to be able to alter one's opinion as facts come in. I don't think entrenchment has served us (as a society) very well over the past few decades.
 

Kliq

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Is there any evidence, even anecdotal, that Ohtani loved gambling? To use a Jordan comparison, there was a billion stories of that guy wanting to gamble on anything and everything, which added some credibility to accusations about him having a very serious gambling problem. Have we heard of any stories like that with Ohtani over the years?

The reason I think this is important is because on the face of it, it is absurd to think that someone with Ohtani's earning power and wealth would be tempted by the potential riches of gambling, to the degree that he would rack up $4.5 million in debt to an illegal bookie. The explanation for Ohtani doing that would be that he has a gambling addiction and is consistently seeking out the rush that comes from winning, but wouldn't that be difficult to hide? It would seem like people would have stories about him wanting to gamble on stuff constantly--clubhouse bets I'm sure are common in baseball and not necessarily taboo subjects.
 

Rovin Romine

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Sorry can you explain what you mean here — if the number was much higher, it is more likely to exonerate Ohtani? Or am I reading you wrong?
@mauf has it.

Also, this is the first time I'm seeing any kind of explanation for why Ohtani may not have been in the loop - the disabled alerts to his phone. If those two end up being paired (other thefts also concealed), that helps establish a pattern of theft/embezzlement and concealment on Mizuhara's part.

This is still public reporting, so it may not be accurate. The timeline also remains important, as do Ohtani's general financial practices. (For example, if the thefts occurred over 6 months and Ohtani routinely accessed his account details, that's not great. If they all occurred in one month and Ohtani's habit was to look for alerts and check in with his accountant every quarter, that's much better for him.)

But it's something to consider.
 

Tokyo Sox

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@Rovin Romine can speak for himself, but if there’s evidence that money was stolen from Ohtani for other purposes, that tends to show that the money that was wired to the bookie was also stolen from Ohtani, as opposed to being sent with Ohtani’s blessing to cover someone’s gambling debts. On the other hand, if every other aspect of Ohtani’s affairs was handled scrupulously, it would be a little harder to explain why this one transaction with the bookie was unauthorized. (Not impossible, just harder.)
Ah I see, that makes sense — thanks to you both.
 

Yaz4Ever

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How do none of Ohtani’s financial people not notice that much money going out? Even if the translator said Shohei was cool with it, don’t they have some fiduciary responsibility to confirm it with him? Either they’re horrible at their jobs or he gave the go ahead.
 

SirPsychoSquints

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How do none of Ohtani’s financial people not notice that much money going out? Even if the translator said Shohei was cool with it, don’t they have some fiduciary responsibility to confirm it with him? Either they’re horrible at their jobs or he gave the go ahead.
Is the actual indictment public yet? As discussed upthread, we don't know the timeframe here.

This news removes the link between Ohtani and the bookies.
Until we see the facts alleged, I don't believe we can say that for sure.

Edit: The US Attorney Office's press release has more details
https://www.justice.gov/usao-cdca/pr/japanese-language-translator-charged-complaint-illegally-transferring-more-16-million
from November 2021 to January 2024, Mizuhara wired more than $16 million in unauthorized transfers from a checking account belong to ... Shohei Ohtani. The transfers from this bank account allegedly were made from devices and IP addresses associated with Mizuhara, who served as Ohtani’s translator and de facto manager.

Mizuhara allegedly told Ohtani’s U.S.-based financial professionals, none of whom spoke Japanese, that Ohtani denied them access to the account.

In September 2021, Mizuhara began gambling with an illegal sports book and, several months later, started losing substantial sums of money, the affidavit states. During this time, the contact information on Ohtani’s bank account allegedly was changed to link the account to Mizuhara’s phone number and to an anonymous email address connected to Mizuhara.

Mizuhara allegedly also telephoned the bank and falsely identified himself as Ohtani to trick bank employees into authorizing wire transfers from Ohtani’s bank account to associates of the illegal gambling operation.

From January 2024 to March 2024, he also allegedly used this same account to purchase via eBay and Whatnot approximately 1,000 baseball cards – at a cost of approximately $325,000 – and had them mailed to Mizuhara under an alias, “Jay Min,” and mailed to the clubhouse for Ohtani’s current MLB team.

In an interview last week with law enforcement, Ohtani denied authorizing Mizuhara’s wire transfers. Ohtani provided his cellphone to law enforcement, who determined that there was no evidence to suggest that Ohtani was aware of, or involved in, Mizuhara’s illegal gambling activity or payment of those debts.
 

Jace II

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I have to be honest... while not being a lawyer, I think folks have focused overly much on the betting angle, when Ohtani's accusation of theft in the millions of dollars basically upped the stakes a lot. The feds may not care about charging gamblers, but they may care about large-scale bank fraud when it's tied to illegal gambling operations.

This news removes the link between Ohtani and the bookies.
If Mizuhara doesn't remember things this way and doesn't want to go to jail (he's already apparently negotiating a plea deal), he may tell a different story than Ohtani is telling in terms of his involvement. Ohtani may have been 100% honest in his theft explanation, but if he wasn't, Mizuhara has incentive to bring that to light.

It seems like the evidence the feds have found points to Mizuhara masterminding all of this.
 

Jace II

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$16M is a TON of money for someone that, prior to 2023, had only made like $13M pretax from his MLB salaries.

Ohtani obviously has had endorsements, baseball income in Japan, etc, but that is a super meaningful amount of money even to him (at least until he signed his $700M contract, which this theft predated, and the vast majority of that cash is deferred anyway). It may have been half of his liquid assets or more