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Report: Ohtani’s stolen money funneled to bookie via Las Vegas casino

Millions of dollars allegedly stolen from Shohei Ohtani by Ippei Mizuhara to pay the former interpreter’s gambling debt to an illegal bookmaking operation were funneled through Resorts World and a California casino, according to an ESPN report.

Federal authorities last month charged the former longtime interpreter for the Los Angeles Dodgers star with federal bank fraud, alleging that Mizuhara stole more than $16 million from the Japanese two-way sensation to cover his massive debts.

Mizuhara sent a series of $500,000 payments from Ohtani’s bank account to Mathew Bowyer, a bookmaker based in Southern California, through one of Bowyer’s associates who forwarded the money to his own “marker” accounts at Resorts World and Pechanga Resort Casino in Southern California. After the money was deposited in the accounts, it was converted to playing chips and later cashed out to pay the bookie.

The men reportedly withdrew chips from the accounts, gambled with them, and if they won, cashed out.

Bowyer, 49, was a high-stakes sports bettor in Las Vegas, a source told the Review-Journal. He also was a high-stakes casino gambler who lost $7.9 million at Resorts World from June 2022 to October 2023, according to ESPN, which also reported that Bowyer lost more than $800,000 in his first visit to the resort.

After Bowyer’s San Juan Capistrano, California, home was raided by federal agents Oct. 5, he was reportedly labeled a known bookmaker and banned from entering U.S. casinos.

The report also states that Resorts World is at the center of a federal investigation into “illegal sports bookmaking organizations operating in Southern California, and the laundering of the proceeds of these operations through casinos in Las Vegas.”

Former MGM Grand president Scott Sibella pleaded guilty in January to federal charges for violating anti-money laundering laws by allowing Wayne Nix, another illegal Southern California bookie, to bet at MGM. His sentencing is scheduled for May 8 in Los Angeles.

Sibella spent eight years as president of MGM Grand Las Vegas before leaving to become president of Resorts World in 2019. Sibella was fired by Resorts World in September for violating company policies.

Resorts World didn’t respond to a request for comment from the Review-Journal.

When Bowyer, an Orange County, California, native, filed for bankruptcy in 2011, he claimed to have lost $425,000 gambling at Aria and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, according to bankruptcy records. He was listed as a divorced father of four daughters.

Aria sued Bowyer for $250,000 for an alleged bounced check, according to court records. The suit was later dismissed.

Bowyer also was sued by Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut and accused of not paying back $1.2 million in casino markers extended to him in 2015. The casino was still trying to collect on the debt last year.

Mizuhara, who was one of more than 600 bettors with Bowyer’s book, ran up a debt of $40.7 million, according to federal authorities.

Ohtani, a two-time MVP, left the Los Angeles Angels in December to sign a record $700 million, 10-year contract with the Dodgers.

U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said there is no evidence that Ohtani was aware of his interpreter’s actions.

“I want to emphasize this point: Mr. Ohtani is considered a victim in this case,” Estrada said.

Ohtani entered Wednesday batting .336 with seven home runs and 19 RBIs in 32 games for the National League West-leading Dodgers (19-13).

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on X.

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