Billy Walters Claims Feds Violated His Civil Rights By Leaking Grand Jury Information
Posted on: November 19, 2020, 01:15h.
Last updated on: November 19, 2020, 10:51h.
Lawyers for Billy Walters sent letters to US Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray earlier this week. The lawyers urged them to investigate the former federal prosecutors and agents involved in the retired sports bettor’s insider trading conviction.
The letters come about a month after Walters filed a federal lawsuit against six former federal justice officials. This included ex-US Attorney Preet Bharara and former FBI Supervisory Agent David Chaves. The suit accuses the officials of leaking secret grand jury information to reporters and working to cover it up.
In the letters, Walters’ attorney Pierce O’Donnell noted the irony that a federal judge found in the case. Federal authorities charged Walters with disclosing confidential information to another person. To revive their investigation into Waters, they allegedly shared confidential information with reporters from The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
Bharara’s office in the Southern District of New York knew about the media leaks, but declined to investigate the matter for more than two years. A Department of Justice integrity unit was eventually brought in to investigate the matter, but their findings have been redacted in public records.
O’Donnell, in an interview with Casino.org Wednesday, called it “an unprecedented assault” on Walters’ Constitutional rights.
I’ve never seen a more egregious case of government misconduct and cover-up… Here we have felonies being committed, multiple statutes being violated,” he told Casino.org.
Walters and his attorneys want the DOJ and FBI to not only examine the leaks and cover-up, but to review why internal investigations didn’t refer the case for criminal or disciplinary action and make their findings public.
Lawyer: Walters Fighting for Others Hurt by Leaks
Walters rose to notoriety in the 1980s after he moved to Las Vegas from his native Kentucky and made millions using computer data to make bets on sporting events. He then invested in various business opportunities
A jury found him guilty in 2017 of insider trading, making $43 million on the purchase and sale of Dean Foods stock over a seven-year time frame. Authorities claimed he used information given to him by then-Dean Foods Chairman Tom Davis, who was in debt to Walters, to buy and sell shares of the stock.
Pro golfer Phil Mickelson was implicated as well in the case. But he was never charged and agreed to pay back more than $1 million in profits he made from trades of Dean Foods stock.
A judge sentenced Walters to serve five years in federal prison. But the Bureau of Prisons released him from a Florida facility in May because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s serving the remainder of his term through home confinement.
He exhausted his appeals last year when the Supreme Court decided not to take on his case. While Walters and his attorneys have claimed the grand jury leaks tainted his conviction, a spokesperson for Walters said neither he nor his attorneys would comment on pursuing a pardon.
O’Donnell told Casino.org he was just brought on to handle the civil rights suit, and that while Walters is seeking vindication for himself, he’s also doing it for others O’Donnell said have been similarly harmed and don’t have the resources to pursue the matter. In the letters to Barr and Wray, O’Donnell lists six other cases where he claims defendants were harmed by leaks.
“He thinks he was prejudiced. The courts found that he wasn’t. OK, we have to accept that,” O’Donnell said. “But we don’t have to accept the injustice that was done to him by the violation of the rules against grand jury secrecy, the collaboration between the media and the prosecutors, and that’s just not supposed to happen. We have exposed it, and we’re going to go after that.”
Other Complaints Filed
In addition to the letters to Barr and Wray, Walters has also filed complaints against Bharara in New York and Chaves in Massachusetts with attorney review boards in those states.
According to court documents, Chaves admitted he leaked information about a grand jury investigation into insider trading of Clorox stock, which included Walters. In 2013, he had a meeting with a Wall Street Journal reporter whom he asked to contact him if she ever came across information pertaining to Walters. He also had dinner with three New York Times journalists in April 2014 where he discussed the Clorox case and noted it was branching out to cover other stocks.
Articles began appearing on the case starting in May 2014 and continued into the next year. Davis approached the authorities about cooperating in the case in February 2016 and implicated Walters.
Chaves retired from the bureau in 2017.
Bharara was fired as a US Attorney in the first weeks of the Trump Administration that same year. He has since become an outspoken critic of Trump, as well as an author and a scholar-in-residence at New York University School of Law.
Last week, Bloomberg reported that President-elect Joe Biden may be considering Bharara to oversee the Securities and Exchange Commission.