Sports gambler William "Billy" Walters was convicted on all 10 counts Friday at his Manhattan insider-trading trial that pulled pro-golfer Phil Mickelson into the rough.
"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 I would have lost - I just did lose the biggest bet of my life. Frankly I'm in shock".
Mickelson agreed to forfeit almost $1 million last May that authorities said he earned through an illegal stock tip from Walters. Davis, who pleaded guilty to perjury and agreed to cooperate with the prosecution as its star witness, testified during the trial that he became a "virtual conduit of nonpublic information" to Walters after he took $1 million from the gambler to cover betting debts and the expenses from a divorce.
Barry Berke, Walters' lawyer, said his client would appeal. Unless he's successful, Walters will be forced to walk away from Las Vegas businesses that include golf courses, auto dealerships and car-rental agencies, with total revenue of $500 million in 2013, according to testimony from his company's controller.
Prosecutors already bagged a plea previous year from Walters' co-conspirator, former Dean Foods chairman Thomas Davis.
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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. Shares in Dean Foods soared 40% a week later when a spin-off was announced, and Mickelson used the $931,738 profit to pay off his debt to Walters.
Davis said he fed secrets about Dean Foods to Walters so that he could make profitable trades and that he hoped to get some tips about business and gambling in return.
Walters's lawyers, in turn, alleged that Davis repeatedly lied on the stand to save his own skin. The Securities and Exchange Commission cited Mickelson for the trades in a lawsuit and Mickelson agreed to repay the money.
The case is U.S. v. Davis et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 16-cr-00338.