Washington Post: Bookies at the Baccarat Table

Written by:
Jagajeet Chiba
Published on:
May/09/2024

The Washington Post Thursday afternoon featured a blockbuster report on how Dodgers phenom Shohei Ohtani's ex-interpreter's bookie was not just any regular at some of the Vegas Strip's top casinos.  He was even once paired with NBA game commentator Charles Barkley in one of their sponsored golf tournaments.  Barkley is very public about his high stakes gambling.

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The former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, plead guilty Wednesday to bank and tax fraud in a sports betting case in which prosecutors allege he stole nearly $17 million from the Japanese baseball player to pay off gambling debts to a California-based illegal bookie.

The plea agreement says Mizuhara will be required to pay Ohtani restitution that could total nearly $17 million, as well as more than $1 million to the IRS. Those amounts could change prior to sentencing.

Mizuhara will enter his guilty plea in the coming weeks and is set to be arraigned May 14, prosecutors said.

By late Wednesday we were learning that Mizuhara had apparently sent the $17 million wire to none other than - you probably didn't guess it - a "Real Housewives" star.

Ryan Boyajian, a current cast member of Bravo's reality TV series "The Real Housewives of Orange County," is the associate of Mizuhara's bookie.  That man's name is Matthew Boyers of Orange County, California.

The Washington Post reports:

Of all the perks the casinos near Lake Tahoe can offer high-rolling customers, few rival an invitation to play in the American Century Championship, the annual celebrity golf tournament. And perhaps the most enticing celebrity to be paired with is retired NBA legend Charles Barkley, the tournament’s hard-swinging and harder-gambling fan favorite, who every year attempts to place six-figure long-odds bets on his performance.

Naturally, in 2019, that privilege went to Mathew Bowyer, an Orange County, Calif., card player who regularly risked millions at tables throughout Nevada and elsewhere — and who is now at the center of a betting scandal surrounding the former interpreter for MLB megastar Shohei Ohtani.

Joining Bowyer and Barkley that day were a sports agent and a Midwestern tool magnate.

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Ippei Mizuhara Wired Shohei Ohtani's Money to 'Real Housewives' Star

Just when you thought things couldn't get any stranger, they just did.  Think bookies, baseball, translators, Vegas casino executives and housewives.  Yeah, we're going there! 

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A tourney spokesperson said of the pairing:

“The casino would have wanted to put him with a golfer with whom he’d have something in common, which in Barkley’s case would be gambling."

The Washington Post story went on to detail how two other major casinos on the strip, The Venetian and Resorts World Las Vegas, accepted millions from Bowyer and his colorful cast of Southern California associates that included Boyajian.

Gus Garcia-Roberts goes deep into Bowyer and Boyajian's years long relationship.

It's been known since last summer that the feds are conducting an investigation into potential money laundering at Vegas casinos, yet the Nevada Gaming Control Board only recently opened its own probe.

Kirk Hendrick, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, dismissed the insinuation that his agency has not acted when asked by the Post.

“I’m not hearing any criticism from the industry,” Hendrick said. “The Nevada control board will investigate anybody who is either involved in or wants to be involved in the Nevada gaming industry.”

This week, a former top casino executive plead guilty to violating federal anti-money laundering rules that required the casino to file reports of suspicious transactions.  Scott Sibella was handed down in federal court by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee, who also ordered Sibella to pay a fine of $9,500, plus a $100 special assessment.

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