Prosecutors in the Billy Walters insider trading trial have requested that a Manhattan federal judge hand down a 10-year prison sentence to the famed sports gambler, the maximum allowed under legal guidelines.
Walters was found guilty in April of profiting by up to $43 million from illegal stock trades on Dean Foods, using sensitive information provided to him by the company’s then-chairman, Tom Davis.
Davis, star witness for the prosecution, claimed he was a “virtual conduit” of insider tips which he communicated to Walters on a pre-paid cell phone set up, which the pair referred to as their “bat phones.”
But Walters’ defense attorneys, who throughout the trial argued that Davis was a liar and an untrustworthy witness, have asked for a lenient sentence of about a year. Their client was simply an expert trader, as he was an expert gambler, they maintain.
Make Him Pay
But in a filing to the court on Friday, prosecutors said an example needs to be made of Walters. Giving him a lenient sentence would “send a message that wealthy defendants can simply buy their way out of the criminal justice system,” Assistant US Attorney Brooke Cucinella wrote in the filing.
“Davis was undoubtedly an eager participant,” Cucinella added. “But only Walters knew the extraordinary magnitude of his illicit trading activity, which at one point included a single position in Dean Foods stock worth over $100 million.”
Walters was “unrepentant” about his role in a “brazen scheme,” she added.
Davis testified against his former friend Walters as part of a plea bargain with federal prosecutors, after admitting charges which included securities fraud and wire fraud. Davis said he became beholden to Walters after the sports bettor lent him more than a million dollars, which he blew, largely on gambling and prostitutes.
Golfer Phil Mickleson also got tangled ancillarily into the case, although he was not called to testify, nor was he accused of any crime. He did, however, agree to pay back $1 million he made on Dean Foods stock on a tip he got from Walters.
Prosecutors ridiculed Walters’ lawyers’ plea for leniency on health grounds, noting that their 73-year-old client had made 77 trips to a golf club in San Diego since 2014, and three in the last two weeks.
“Since Walters’s age and health concerns are not so serious as to keep him off the links, they should not provide a basis to keep him out of jail,” said the filing.
Meanwhile, Walters’ legal team have highlighted the numerous written character statements it has submitted to the court, which “speak forcefully to the commitment, kindness, sympathy, altruism and generosity that Mr. Walters has shown to his communities, friends and employees, and even those he barely knew.”
He is due to be sentenced on July 27.