Former Angels Player David Fletcher Illegally Bet Sports With Translator Ippei Mizuhara's Bookie

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
May/18/2024

Key takeaways:

It's more of a mess for Major League Baseball as two more players find themselves embroiled in a gambling scandal.

Former Los Angeles Angels infielder and current Atlanta Braves minor leaguer David Fletcher placed bets with Mathew Bowyer, the illegal bookmaker at the center of the Ippei Mizuhara gambling scandal, reports ESPN. Fletcher is not accused of gambling on baseball, but his friend Colby Schultz, a former Kansas City Royals minor leaguer, reportedly did bet on MLB games, including Angels games that Fletcher played in.

Mizhura, Shohei Ohtani's  longtime interpreter, is accused of stealing $16 million from Ohtani's account in order to pay a gambling debt to Bowyer.

Mizhura initially pleaded not guilty Tuesday to bank and tax fraud, a formality before following through on a plea deal he’s negotiated with federal prosecutors to admit guilt.  Defense attorney Michael G. Freedman said Mizuhara planned to plead guilty in the future.

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From CBS Sports:

In the March interview, Fletcher told ESPN that he was present at the 2021 poker game in San Diego where Mizuhara first met Bowyer. Fletcher said he did not introduce the interpreter to the bookie but that Bowyer gained entry to the poker game at the team hotel through an acquaintance of Fletcher's.

Fletcher also told ESPN in March he had met Bowyer once before while playing golf and that he knew Bowyer was a bookmaker at the time of the poker game. He said that he never placed a bet himself with Bowyer's organization.

ESPN notes that Fletcher (pictured below) did not respond to multiple requests for comment while the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California declined to comment.  The Braves also declined to comment. 

Fletcher started at second base for Gwinnett in its game against the Memphis Redbirds on Friday night after ESPN first reported on this matter.

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The case has expanded to involve Las Vegas casino executives, at least indirectly, as Bowyer was known to be a high stakes player in Vegas.

One executive, former president of MGM Grand and Resorts World, Scott Sibella, was recently sentenced to probation for violating a federal law requiring casinos to know the source of their customer’s funds and file a suspicious activity report.

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Though not directly linked to Bowyer (pictured above), Sibella allowed illegal bookmaker Wayne Nix to pay a $120,000 gambling debt to the MGM Grand without reporting the transaction to the federal government, a violation of the Bank Secrecy Act that is punishable by a fine up to $250,000 and prison time.

“The decision to plead to the single charge, for failing to file a suspicious activity report (SAR) at MGM Resorts in 2017, was not easily arrived at given the underlying facts and realities in this matter,” Sibella said in the statement.

“Contrary to published reports, Mr. Sibella never used a betting account and never made any illegal bets,” Sibella's attorney, John Spilotro, said in a statement. “In addition, Mr. Sibella had no involvement in the bookmaking activities of Mathew Bowyer and nothing whatsoever to do with Ippei Mizuhara, the former interpreter of Shohei Ohtani.”

Federal agents are currently conducting a ongoing investigation into similar violations of the Bank Secrecy Act.

We recently learned that alleged bookie and poker player Damien LeForbes (pictured below) is among those banned from Vegas casinos.

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LeForbes, along with another banned player, is represented by longtime Las Vegas attorney David Chesnoff. 

The famed lawyer urges the press and poker room parrots not to rush to judgment of his clients. Getting 86’d from a casino isn’t a crime, and the attorney says he has another concern.

“If gaming companies need to know their customers that is their obligation as licensees,” Chesnoff said in a statement. “However, without findings in a court of law or in a hearing conducted with due process, they also deny people access to the non-gaming parts of the resorts, and that raises serious constitutional questions.”

LeForbes live poker earnings stand at just shy of $60,000, including a win at the $ 500 No Limit Hold'em Big Poker Oktober - 2007, Los Angeles (Bell Gardens).

Gambling911.com cannot independently verify that LeForbes engages in bookmaking.

And even "Real Housewives" stars are being implicated.  Ryan Boyajian, a current cast member of Bravo's reality TV series "The Real Housewives of Orange County," is the bookmaker's associate to whom Ippei Mizuhara wired the funds, according to ESPN.

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MLB players and team personnel are forbidden from betting on baseball, even legally. They can bet on other sports legally, but gambling on sports is technically illegal in California.

Fletcher, 29, who is a career .276/.323/.358 hitter, signed a five-year extension worth $26 million in April 2021 with the Angels trading him to the Braves in what amounted to a salary dump trade this past offseason. Atlanta placed Fletcher on waivers, but he went unclaimed.

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