The former interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani was charged Thursday with illegally transferring more than $16 million from one of the baseball player's bank accounts, the Justice Department said, describing Ohtani as the victim in the case.

It said Ippei Mizuhara, who faces a bank fraud charge, made the transfers from November 2021 to January 2024 "without the player's knowledge or permission" to pay off his gambling debts incurred with an illegal bookmaking operation.

Disclosed court documents showed Mizuhara lost some $40 million over the period after making around 19,000 bets in total, 25 per day on average. His wagers varied between $10 and $160,000 as the illegal bookmaker kept raising the wagers limit despite Mizuhara's swelling debt.

U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada announces charges against Ippei Mizuhara, the former longtime interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani, during a news conference in Los Angeles on April 11, 2024. (AP/Kyodo)

Mizuhara, 39, is expected to appear in a district court in Los Angeles on Friday, the court said.

Ohtani came to the United States from Japan to play for the Los Angeles Angels in the 2018 season.

As a close confidant, Mizuhara helped Ohtani open an account at a bank in Arizona that year as the player did not speak English, the department said. Ohtani's salary from playing professional baseball was deposited into the account.

Mizuhara allegedly told Ohtani's agent and accountant that Ohtani had denied them access and they testified that they could not confirm the situation directly with Ohtani as they could not speak Japanese.

After Mizuhara lost "substantial sums of money" gambling with an illegal sports book over a span of months beginning in September 2021, he changed the contact information on the player's account to link it to his own phone number, it said.

The interpreter is accused of falsely identifying himself as Ohtani to deceive bank employees so they would authorize wire transfers from the account.

Ohtani, who moved to the Dodgers in December on a 10-year, $700 million contract, spoke to law enforcement last week and denied authorizing Mizuhara's wire transfers, the department said, adding that he gave investigators access to his cellphone.

Shohei Ohtani (R) of the Los Angeles Dodgers speaks to the media with the help of his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara during DodgerFest at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Feb. 3, 2024. (MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News/Getty/Kyodo)

Law enforcement 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," the department said.

Major League Baseball said in a statement posted on its official website, "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."

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service and the Homeland Security Department are involved in the investigation of the fraud allegation.

Representatives of Ohtani, 29, have accused Mizuhara of engaging in a "massive theft" of the player's funds to place bets with a bookmaker who is a target of federal investigation.

Mizuhara sent a message confessing his theft to the bookmaker on March 20, the day of the Dodgers' MLB season opener in Seoul, according to the disclosed documents.

The bookmaker sent threatening messages to Mizuhara when he could not be reached by phone, the documents showed.

At a press conference in late March, Ohtani denied involvement in gambling on sports and said he had no knowledge of the wire transfers. He accused Mizuhara of stealing money from his account, without providing details about how the theft occurred.

Mizuhara has made no public comments about the allegation since it emerged last month while he was with the team in Seoul for this season's opener. The Dodgers fired him soon after the scandal was reported.

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