Billy Walters, the most successful sports bettor in history, claimed that Phil Mickelson could have helped him avoid jail if he had agrees to testify at his 2017 trial.
Walter was sentenced to five years in prison following a conviction on 10 counts of conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud related to ‘ill-gotten gains’ trading Dean Foods stock.
Walters shared insider information around some of those trades with Mickelson, who made multiple stock transactions that earned him $931,000 and was forced by the SEC to repay $1 million.
And, Walters attributes a lot of the blame for his sentencing to Mickelson, who he claims had already told the FBI he had never received insider trading information from Walters but backed out of testifying at the trial at the 11th hour.
‘I thought we were friends and that’s what hurt me more than anything else,’ Walters told The Times. ‘All he was asked to do was come forward and merely tell the truth. He didn’t do it and, as a result, I lost my freedom.’
Billy Walters blames Phil Mickelson (pictured) for his 2017 conviction for insider trading
Walters was sentenced to five years in prison for conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud
Mickelson made 858 bets of $220,000 and 1,115 bets of $110,000 from 2010 up until 2014, while estimating that his total losses in the last 30 years exceed the $1bn mark, Walters alleged in an extract of his autobiography ‘Gambler: Secrets from a Life at Risk’, via Golf Digest.
‘When push comes to shove, Phil doesn’t care about anyone except himself,’ Walters writes. ‘Time and time again, he never stood up for a friend. He refused to simply tell the truth when it could have meant the difference between prison and exoneration.’
Walters’ daughter took her own life in 2019 after a struggle with an opioid addiction, while he was in prison.
The Las Vegas businessman believes that if he had been free, she would still be alive and cited her death as a motive for wanting to ‘set the record straight’ on his partnership with Mickelson.
‘If I’d been on the outside, there is no question in my mind my daughter would still be alive,’ Walters told The Times.
The six-time major winner first met Walters at the 2006 Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the notorious sports gambler claimed he entered into a gambling partnership with the golfer two years later.
Yet, the bet that raised eyebrows the most was Mickelson’s alleged request to place a wager on the 2012 Ryder Cup.
Walters claimed that Mickelson tried to place a $400,000 wager on his own US team to win the Ryder Cup back in 2012.
He says he then furiously asked Mickelson: ‘Have you lost your f***ing mind?’ before the California golfer backtracked on his request. He remains unsure if he placed the bet anywhere else.
Walters alleged that the six-time major winner tried to place a bet on the 2012 Ryder Cup
That year, Team USA suffered one of the biggest collapses in Ryder Cup history as Europe completed a miraculous comeback in Medinah.
He also alleges that Mickelson offered up two offshore accounts to use for football games after bookmakers imposed caps on Walters’ bets.
But the partnership came to an end after Mickelson learnt the FBI was investigating Walters with the prosecution alleging that he had made more than $43 million between 2008 and 2014 using tips from the former chairman of Dean Foods, Thomas C. Davis.
‘The last thing prosecutors wanted to see, given the power of his celebrity and personality, was Phil Mickelson walk into a courtroom and testify on the witness stand under oath that, as far as he knew, I was not guilty,’ writes Walters. ‘But Phil did not do it.’
The partnership came to an end after Mickelson learnt the FBI was investigating Walters
Walters bumped into Mickelson for the first time since his release last June following the professional’s self-imposed exile from the golfing world after his explosive comments about the Saudi Arabians, the backers of LIV Golf.
Mickelson had led the defections from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf, being the most outspoken supporter of the breakaway, which caused a great rift between the rebels and those who refused to jump ship.
Walters believes there is a strong similarity between Mickelson’s fallout with the PGA Tour loyalists and his own split with the 53-year-old.
‘I think there are a lot of similarities,’ he says. ‘That’s unfortunately pretty much the case. I don’t believe he cares about anyone except himself.’
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