MANHATTAN – A federal jury convicted legendary sports gambler Billy Walters on Friday of an insider-trading scheme with the CEO of Dean Foods that netted him $43 million.
Walters, 70, faced a four-week trial in Manhattan before U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel. In the second day of deliberations today, the jury returned a guilty verdict against the Las Vegas resident on all 10 counts of conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud charges.
“Today, Billy Walters lost his bet that he could cheat the securities markets on a massive scale and get away with it scot-free,” Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said in a statement.
Prosecutors already bagged a plea last year from Walters’ co-conspirator, former Dean Foods chairman Thomas Davis.
Dean Foods is the company behind Land O’Lakes, Horizon and other major supermarket brands. Davis has already pleaded guilty to sharing tips on Dean Foods that allowed Davis to profit by tens of millions of dollars between 2008 and 2014.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Ferrara had showed the jury evidence that the dynamic duo traded nonpublic information about the company on prepaid burners they referred to as the “bat phone.” Their codename for Dean Foods was the Dallas Cowboys.
In addition to tips that made Walters money, the gambler was warned ahead of news that caused Dean Foods shares to drop 30 percent drop in one day.
If he had traded those shares with the rest of the public, Walters would have lost $7 million.
“Armed with his illegal edge, Walters made huge, perfectly-timed trades, at times accounting for over a third of the trading volume in Dean Foods stock,” AUSA Kim said in a statement.
Celebrity golfer Phil Mickelson had been an uncharged beneficiary to the scheme.
Walters was represented by Barry Berke with the firm Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel.
Facing up to 20 years in prison for each of eight counts, plus five years apiece on the other two, Walters will be sentenced by Judge Castel on July 14, 2017.