High-roller Billy Walters convicted on insider trading charges

Posted April 08, 2017

Read 'em and weep, a NY federal jury told professional gambler Billy Walters on Friday after the six-woman, six-man panel convicted him of securities fraud, wire fraud and related conspiracies.

Berke said his 70-year-old client was "in the fight of his life" and was viewed negatively by the government in part because he is a "high profile, colorful Las Vegas gambler".

"I just lost the biggest bet of my life, " Walters said outside Manhattan federal court minutes after the jury returned its verdict. "If I had made a bet on this I would have lost. I'm in total shock".

The prosecutor said Walters urged Mickelson to buy Dean Foods stock and the golfer then invested $2 million, scoring a profit in 2012 of almost $1 million, which he turned over to Walters to cover gambling debts.

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Before the trial, Mickelson was listed as a possible witness, but he did not testify. At one point, assistant US attorney Brooke Cucinella told the jury, Walters purchased 1.5 million shares of Dean Foods just minutes after Davis left him a phone message telling him the company was spinning off part of its business and was about to report a surprisingly robust earnings announcement.

Walters was represented by Barry Berke with the firm Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel.

Walters, 70, has built a sprawling business of auto dealerships, vehicle rental agencies and golf courses worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

A defense lawyer was scheduled to deliver a closing argument Thursday. Davis, 68, has pleaded guilty to insider trading charges and was cooperating in the hopes of leniency at sentencing.

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Berke said he would leave no doubt among jurors that Davis had lied repeatedly. The prosecutor said Mickelson gave the profits to Walters to cover gambling debts.

Asked what evidence led to the guilty verdict, one juror replied, "Everything that was in front of us". The Securities and Exchange Commission cited Mickelson for the trades in a lawsuit and Mickelson agreed to repay the money.

And we really fell in love with this case when Walters and his lawyers invented a whole new strategy for defense against insider trading charges: Claiming that you just mimicked Carl Icahn.

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