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Legendary Sports Bettor Billy Walters Blames Golfer Phil Mickelson For Prison Sentence

Walters Says Golfer Should Have Testified At His Trial


Infamous Las Vegas sports bettor Billy Walters is currently serving time in a minimum-security federal prison in Florida, a fate that he blames in large part on golfer Phil Mickelson.

Walters was sentenced to five years behind bars back in July for a years-long scheme to profit tens of millions of dollars from insider trading tips on the stock of Dean Foods, the largest processor of milk in the United States. The former chairman of Dean Foods, who had a serious gambling problem and used to be Walters’ friend, fed Walters the tips. Despite the conviction, Walters maintains his innocence.

In an interview with ESPN, Walters explained how Mickelson hurt his legal defense. The famous golfer, who is known to have a fondness for gambling, owed nearly $2 million to Walters thanks to a gambling debt. In order to recoup the money, Walters allowed Mickelson in on the scheme. Mickelson profited nearly $1 million from a 2012 tip from Walters, according to the federal government, but he was never criminally charged. He was ordered to repay the money.

After the 2016 indictment, a lawyer for Mickelson described him as “an innocent bystander.”

Mickelson did not testify at the trials for either Walters or Tom Davis, the former head of Dean Foods. Mickelson reportedly was prepared to plead the fifth in order to avoid the possibility of self-incrimination. Walters’ team alleges that the feds did not push hard to get Mickelson on the stand.

“Here is a guy [Mickelson] that all he had to do was come forward and tell the truth,” Walters told ESPN. “That was all he had to do. The guy wouldn’t do that because he was concerned about his image. He was concerned about his endorsements.”

The 71-year-old Walters believes Mickelson essentially cost him the remaining years of his life.

“My god, in the meantime a man’s life is on the line,” Walters lamented. “[I’m] going to go to prison. And you got prosecutors up there during the entire trial, the entire month — all they talked about over and over was me giving my friends insider information. That is all they talked about. And they knew those jurors were all up on the internet reading that stuff about Phil [profiting from the Dean Foods stock purchase].”

Mickelson reportedly was mentioned at Walters’ trial more than 120 times.