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Sunday, April 21, 2024
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It Remains Unclear Which Authorities Shohei Ohtani Has Reported Theft of Millions to, If Any

  • Ohtani’s law firm said it was turning the matter over to authorities, but no agency will confirm it’s been in touch, reports ESPN.
  • ‘FOS’ was also unable to find an agency that will say a theft has been reported.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea – USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a week since Shohei Ohtani’s representatives accused his now former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, of stealing $4.5 million from the Dodgers’ star to cover his gambling debts—and yet no one has, it seems, reported the alleged crime to law enforcement.

On Tuesday, ESPN’s Tisha Thompson and Paula Lavigne reported that Ohtani’s camp declined to specify which authorities it has reported the theft to, or provide any proof it had done so. The reporters were also unable to identify any investigating agency that could confirm it had had the crime reported to it.

This accords with Front Office Sports reporting. Last week, Ohtani’s law firm, Berk Brettler LLP, issued a statement in which it 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.” FOS has, though, contacted a number of local and federal agencies and found that none seem to have had the theft of $4.5 million reported to them.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the Anaheim Police Department, either of which could conceivably have jurisdiction given that Ohtani is believed to have been living in Anaheim at the time of the alleged theft, did not respond to requests to comment. 

Their colleagues in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles Police Department said they had not had such a crime reported to them; an LAPD spokesperson expressed bewilderment at national reporters not realizing that Anaheim and Los Angeles are different places, though he did acknowledge it would make sense for them to turn over a variety of stones.

The U.S. Attorney in California’s Central District declined to comment on whether Ohtani, the Dodgers, or Major League Baseball have brought the alleged theft to the office’s attention or which would be the investigating agency if a report was made. These, a spokesperson said, were good questions.

One spokesperson for the FBI’s Los Angeles office said he knew nothing about any case and referred FOS to the U.S. Attorney. Another, while stressing the FBI’s longstanding policy of not confirming or denying the existence of investigations, did tell FOS that this is “not our case.” The spokesperson, citing media reports, referred the matter to the criminal investigations arm of the IRS.

The IRS confirmed its involvement in an investigation, which was widely reported last week, but Scott Villiard, a spokesperson, couldn’t say whether Ohtani’s camp had reported a theft. The agency, he said, is “unable to discuss any additional details, including whether we have or have not spoken with camps or individuals.”

ESPN reported that Homeland Security Investigations—a division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement—is working on the case with the IRS. It “would not specify whether it was looking into Ohtani’s theft allegations or if it had been contacted by Ohtani’s representatives,” according to ESPN, and a spokesperson made clear its acknowledgment of involvement covered an “overall investigation including Mizuhara’s role.” This leaves it unclear what precisely the contours of the investigation are, and whether it has to do principally with a preexisting investigation into bookmaker Mathew Bowyer, to whom the $4.5 million was transferred, or with a new look into matters that would cover the alleged theft.

Spokespeople for several of the law enforcement agencies, speaking informally, said that if they had had $4.5 million stolen from them, they would report it to authorities and expressed interest in where the case would go next. 

Before claiming that Mizuhara had stolen the money, Ohtani’s camp arranged and presided over a lengthy interview with ESPN in which Mizuhara asserted Ohtani had personally transferred the money to Bowyer. The star has since denied any knowledge of Mizuhara’s gambling or debts, saying the translator lied to and stole from him and that he himself has never bet on sports.

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