Reports Claim Feds to Grant Early Prison Release for Legendary Sports Bettor Billy Walters

Posted on: April 30, 2020, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: April 30, 2020, 01:12h.

Billy Walters, a well-known sports bettor currently serving five years for insider trading, will be released from federal prison, according to media reports. That could happen as soon as this weekend.

Billy Walters prison
Billy Walters (center) walks beside his attorney outside a federal courthouse in New York back in June 2016. Reports indicate the legendary sports bettor, who is serving a five-year sentence for insider trading, may be released from prison soon. (Image: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

George Knapp, an investigative reporter for Las Vegas TV station KLAS, broke the story on Twitter earlier this week, citing two people close to Walters.

According to the US Bureau of Prisons, the 73-year-old is currently housed at the Federal Prison Camp Pensacola, a minimum-security facility at a US Navy air station in the Florida panhandle town.

Walters is scheduled to be released on Jan. 10, 2022. Federal officials declined to comment on the matter.

For safety reasons, we do not discuss the possibility of future inmate movement,” bureau spokesman Justin Long told in an email.

A message to Walters’ attorney was not returned.

Pensacola is the same facility that housed disgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy, who served nearly a year there in connection to a game-fixing scandal more than a decade ago.

Insider Trading Case

Three years ago this month, a federal jury in New York convicted Walters on 10 counts of insider trading.

The charges stemmed from an investigation into Dean Foods, the largest dairy company in the US. Prosecutors claimed Walters acted on tips provided Tom Davis, Dean’s former chairman. The information helped Walters make millions.

In addition to his prison term, Walters was also fined $25.4 million, which equaled the amount of profits prosecutors could prove in court he made through the inside trades. However, they alleged he pocketed up to $43 million because of the trades.

Walters appealed the conviction, with his attorneys claiming that grand jury details were leaked to reporters. However, his claims failed to sway any justices, and he exhausted his appeals when the Supreme Court turned him down in October.

Rise and Fall

A Kentucky native, Walters’ story has been shared many times. He grew up poor and raised by a grandmother. He’s said to have placed his first bet in 1955 on the New York Yankees to win the World Series.

They lost.

He made his way to Las Vegas in the 1980s and connected with a couple of people who began using computers to help identify sports betting opportunities. He then parlayed the fortune he made from gambling into other businesses, such as car dealerships and golf courses. Success in those ventures varied, thanks in part to the Great Recession more than a decade ago.

The insider trading case that led to his conviction gained additional media attention because it also involved pro golfer Phil Mickelson. Authorities alleged Mickelson owed gambling-related debts to Walters, and Walters shared the information he got from Davis. Mickelson made nearly $1 million and used the money to repay his debt.

In interviews since his conviction, Walters has been critical of Mickelson, who did not testify in the case after his lawyers told court officials he would plead the Fifth Amendment to not incriminate himself.

“Here is a guy that all he had to do was come forward and tell the truth,” Walters said in an October 2017 interview with ESPN. “That was all he had to do. The guy wouldn’t do that because he was concerned about his image. He was concerned about his endorsements.”

Davis ultimately was sentenced to two years in prison after taking a guilty plea. Dean Foods filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in US bankruptcy court in November.