A bigshot sports gambler who pulled pro golfer Phil Mickelson into the rough through illegal investment tips was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison for a $43 million insider trading scheme.
Billy Walters, 70, illegally profited off of inside info relating to the dairy giant, Dean Foods, between 2008 and 2014.
“Billy Walters, a legendary sports gambler who mastered playing the odds, refused to play by the rules,” acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said.
“Walters cheated his way to tens of millions in illegal profits, making massive, perfectly-timed trades in Dean Foods based on confidential information stolen directly from the boardroom.”
Walters scored the inside info thanks to his golfing buddy Tom Davis, the former chairman of Dean Foods Co. Davis pleaded guilty in May of last year to insider trading and other charges and was the government’s star witness during Walters’ trial.
“When it comes to the stock market, Billy Walters is a cheater,” Judge Kevin Castel said before imposing sentence.
“Walters … was fixated on appearing to himself, and to others, as a winner.”
In 2015, ESPN called Walters “the most successful sports bettor” in the last four decades.
Walters’ attorney Barry Berke emphasized his client’s “many good deeds.”
The case ensnared Mickelson, who in May 2016 agreed to forfeit some $1 million that authorities said he pocketed because Walters gave him an illegal stock tip.
The golf champ in 2012 invested $2.4 million in Dean Foods at Walters’ urging — resulting in profits of $931,000.
Mickelson was not hit with criminal charges.