Published: Sat, April 08, 2017
Finance | By Laverne Griffith

Gambler tied to Phil Mickelson convicted of insider trading

Gambler tied to Phil Mickelson convicted of insider trading

Walters, whose risky bets earned him the title of the "most unsafe sports bettor in Nevada", was convicted of insider trading charges Friday, a federal prosecutor in Manhattan said.

As the verdict was returned on 10 counts of conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud, Walters shook his head repeatedly.

He praised his client, saying the Kentucky-born sports gambler had built a sprawling business of auto dealerships, vehicle rental agencies and golf courses worth hundreds of millions of dollars and routinely made multimillion-dollar bets in the stock market. "Frankly, I am in total shock".

Mickelson made almost $1 million from trading Dean Foods Co. stock, but he was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Securities and Exchange Commission last May.

Mickelson never was charged because prosecutors couldn't prove he knew that Walters was passing along inside information, but he repaid almost $1 million in profits on Dean Foods trading.

Barry Berke, Walters' lawyer, said his client would appeal. Davis has already pleaded guilty to sharing tips on Dean Foods that allowed Davis to profit by tens of millions of dollars between 2008 and 2014.

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In her closing argument to the jury, prosecutor Brooke Cucinella called Davis the gambler's "man on the inside" and argued that Walters's use of disposable phones was proof he was aware he was breaking the law. Davis, who was Walters's friend, business partner and golfing pal of more than 20 years, was the government's star witness.

Federal investigators also questioned activist investor Carl Icahn regarding the matter, probing whether Mickelson and Walters made money selling shares of Clorox around the time that Icahn announced his interest in buying the company.

When asked what evidence convinced them Walters was guilty, one member of the jury, just before getting on an elevator, said, "Everything that was in front of us".

The case is U.S. v. Walters, 16-cr-00338, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

In 2016, Mickelson reached an agreement to pay back $1.03 million that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said he made by trading in Dean Foods stock.

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