Phil Mickelson Would “Take the Fifth” if Called to Testify in Billy Walters Trial
Posted on: March 27, 2017, 04:00h.
Last updated on: March 27, 2017, 01:38h.
Golfer Phil Mickelson would “take the fifth” if called to testify in the ongoing trial of his friend Billy Walters and will therefore not be called as a witness for the defense, according to Walters’ lawyer.
The possibility of the five-time major winner making an appearance in court has been the cause of a lot of breathless speculation since news of the case first surfaced three years ago. Just before the case began last week, the judge was forced to dismiss a juror for exhibiting a “look of rapture” when she heard Mickelson might take the stand.
Walters, a legendary Las Vegas sports bettor and owner of Walters Golf, stands accused of making $43 million from illegal stock market trades through insider tips, allegedly provided by Tom Davis, the former chairman of Dean Foods Co.
Mickelson, a golfing buddy of Walters, has also made money investing in Dean Foods, some $931,000, thanks to information he received from Walters, according to US securities regulators. There is, however, no suggestion that Mickelson committed a crime or that he knew of the source of the information.
The golfer has agreed to return the money obtained from the trades in question.
Mickelson Ruled Out
Until now, neither defense or prosecution had declared publicly whether they would call Mickelson to testify, although he had been listed as a possible witness for the defense. That was ruled out during a conference between lawyers and the judge on Friday, by Walters’ attorney Barry Berke.
“He is on our witness list, but we understand from his counsel he would invoke his Fifth Amendment if called,” said Berke, according to a transcript of the conference. “So he will not be called as a witness, although his name will be mentioned.”
Mickelson’s lawyer Gregory Craig declared his client to be “innocent of any wrongdoing,” at the time the accusations surfaced. “Phil was an innocent bystander to alleged wrongdoing by others that he was unaware of,” he said.
Last week, when asked directly by the Associated Press about whether he expected to testify, Mickelson himself said “I’m not part of that … I’m out. I won’t be called. ”
Gambling, Hookers and Bat Phones
During the first week of the trial last week, the court heard the testimony of the prosecution’s star witness, Davis, who asserted that he acted as a “virtual conduit” of insider tips for Walters, provided via a pre-paid cellphone set up which the pair referred to as their “bat phones.”
Davis said that Walters’ demands for insider tips became more insistent after Walters loaned him almost $1 million, a sum he blew on gambling and prostitutes, by his own admission.
Walters contends that Davis is lying.
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