Las Vegas sports gambler Billy Walters was found guilty Friday in a trial related to an insider trading scheme.
He praised his client, saying the Kentucky-born sports gambler had built a sprawling business of auto dealerships, vehicle rental agencies and golf courses worth hundreds of millions of dollars and routinely made multimillion-dollar bets in the stock market.
"To say I was surprised would be the biggest understatement of my life", Walters said in the Southern drawl that reflects his Kentucky birth and considerable time spent in Texas. "Frankly, I am in total shock".
Mickelson agreed to forfeit almost $1 million last May that authorities said he earned through an illegal stock tip from Walters.
"Billy Walters lost his bet that he could cheat the securities market on a massive scale", acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney, Joon H. Kim, said in a statement.
Walters was placed under house arrest until his sentencing, which is scheduled for July 14. At one point, assistant US attorney Brooke Cucinella told the jury, Walters purchased 1.5 million shares of Dean Foods just minutes after Davis left him a phone message telling him the company was spinning off part of its business and was about to report a surprisingly robust earnings announcement.
Walters' lawyer, Berry Burke, said the verdict will be appealed.
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Closing arguments capped a three-week trial.
Walters was charged after a high-profile probe focused on what prosecutors called his long-running scheme to obtain confidential tips about Dean Foods Co from its chairman, Thomas Davis. He has pleaded guilty to insider trading charges and is likely to receive leniency at sentencing as a result of his testimony.
Berke said he would leave no doubt among jurors that Davis had lied repeatedly.
Asked what evidence led to the guilty verdict, one juror replied, "Everything that was in front of us".
Davis, who testified against Walters as part of a plea deal, told jurors he passed tips ahead of Dean Foods' earnings reports and a 2012 spinoff of part of its business, using "burner" phones.
In an agreement with the Security and Exchange Commission, Mickelson agreed to repay the trading profits.