Involved lawyer reveals federal investigation's interest level in Shohei Ohtani

The lawyer of a bookie that admits to taking bets from Ippei Mizuhara reveals federal investigators' level of interest in Shohei Ohtani.

2024 Seoul Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres
2024 Seoul Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres / Masterpress/GettyImages

Shohei Ohtani, normally evidently allergic to the limelight, has now been forced into the public eye even more so than he would be by default as a Los Angeles Dodgers superstar. His longtime friend and interpreter Ippei Mizuhara has been fired by the team after a betting scandal emerged earlier in the week.

There is some intriguer over what's true and what's not, but Ohtani's lawyers claim that Mizuhara stole large amounts of money ($4.5 million is the figure that has been floated) from Ohtani to pay a gambling debt. Earlier versions of the story seemed to claim Ohtani knowingly paid the debt off for his friend.

Here is an article detailing everything to know from earlier in the week, and another one that looks at all of the unanswered questions still to ask.

Now, the lawyer of the bookie Mizuhara is believed to have placed bets with has spoken to the Washington Post, adding some more color to the story.

Shohei Ohtani not of interest to federal investigators as of a month ago

The bookie in question is Matt Bowyer, who, through his lawyer, admits he has taken bets (subscription required). Bowyer operates a Jiu-Jitsu studio and is known to be a high-limit baccarat player according to the Washington Post's reporting (Gus Garcia-Roberts and Albert Samaha). He has been banned, unbanned, and banned again from plenty of Las Vegas casinos that have bankrupted him. A 2019 investigation into hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash shipped from South Florida to his house in Yahtzee! boxes did not result in charges against him.

Bowyer, also, invested $1 million in a company related to a real estate scam that the Federal Trade Commission called, "the largest overseas real estate investment scam the [agency] has ever targeted," per WaPo. Bowyer was deposed but not named as a defendant, nor charged. The Posts's article details Bowyer more extensively.

Bowyer's attorney, Diane Bass, says that he has never had any contact with Ohtani, only Mizuhara. Bass also was alerted to ESPN's knowledge of Ohtani's paying of the debts in January. When she asked federal investigators about it, they had "no interest" in Ohtani as a part of the investigation into the illegal betting ring.

One could believe their lack of interest would indicate they had reason to believe Ohtani was not involved, but that is not a known fact.

The lawyer confirmed that Mizahura's credit line was increased in part because of his proximity to Ohtani, despite the lack of personal assurances that Ohtani would cover any debts.

The lawyer says that Mizahura was known to be a "compulsive gambler."

The reporting from the Washington Post seems to lend credence to the idea that Ohtani was uninvolved in the bets, but does not necessarily absolve Ohtani from possible punishment. The MLB announced it has opened its own investigation on Friday.