Professional gambler Billy Walters was convicted of insider trading Friday in federal court in Manhattan in a case that involved evidence that he passed some tips to golf superstar Phil Mickelson.
Walters, 70, a renowned multimillionaire sports bettor from Las Vegas, was found guilty of 10 counts of conspiracy, wire and securities fraud on only the second day of deliberations. The trial began March 15.
“To say I was surprised would be the understatement of my life,” Walters told reporters after hearing the verdict. “If I had made a bet on this I would have lost. I just did lose the biggest bet of my life. I’m in total shock.”
Walters claimed he made millions in trading on Dean Foods and other stock because of the same intuitive genius and careful research that made him a successful gambler, but prosecutors relied on a former Dean Foods chairman who testified that he gave Walters inside tips.
Mickelson, a Walters friend, never was charged because prosecutors couldn’t prove he knew that Walters was passing along inside information, but he repaid nearly $1 million in profits on Dean Foods trading.
“Today Billy Walters lost his bet that he could cheat the securities markets on a massive scale and get away with it scot-free,” acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said Friday.
U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel ordered home detention for Walters and no more use of his corporate plane while he awaits sentencing on July 14.