Phil Mickelson just barely wiggled out of insider-trading charges, but Las Vegas businessman and gambler Billy Walters didn’t have the same luck.
Walters was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison on the terms of fraud, conspiracy, and wire fraud for his involvement in an insider-trading case connected to Dean Foods. He was also fined $10 million dollars for his involvement. Prosecutors argued that from 2008 to 2014 Walters made more than $43 million from trades of Dean Foods thanks to information he had received from former company chairman Tom Davis.
Mickelson became involved when Walter’s urged the professional golfer to start trading with Dean Foods. He made more than $931,000 in profits after buying and selling holdings between July and August 2012. This information was used against Walters in court but Mickelson did not testify.
He ended up squeezing by without a prosecution because there was no evidence to prove that Mickelson knew where Walters was getting his information. He could have been relying on a well known gambler to know his stuff, not realizing it was actually an insider-trading deal. Or he could have known the whole time. Either way there’s no proof.
The SEC did name Mickelson a “relief defendant” in a civil case, meaning that the agency believed that he profited from insider trading in Dean Foods, even if he didn’t engage in it himself. Mickelson settled that civil case by agreeing to surrender his trading profits, plus interest of more than $100,000. In doing so, Mickelson neither admitted nor denied the allegations in the SEC’s complaint.
Lucky for Phil, because if he had, he could have been behind bars next to Walters, not making fun of Jordan Spieth or preparing for another golf tournament.