Vegas gambler, a Kentucky native once charged with bookmaking, guilty in insider trading case

waltersThe colorful story of one-time Kentucky bookie and Las Vegas professional gambler William “Billy” Walters now has a new paragraph. A federal jury in New York found him guilty of insider trading last week, wrapping up an investigation that included him and pro golfer Phil Mickelson — who was not charged.

“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 H. Kim said in a statement.

Walters agreed, according to an Associated Press story, saying he’d “just lost the biggest bet of my life.”

Walters was accused of receiving inside information about Dean Foods from a board member for years, the statement said, “and illegally traded on it, netting over $43 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.”

Mickelson was not charged. He agreed last year to pay about $1 million to return what he earned from the trades and interest under an agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

According to the SEC, Walters made $40 million based on illegal stock tips from the board member who owed him money. An SEC news release said Walters instructed the board member “to refer to Dean Foods as the ‘Dallas Cowboys’ during conversations” on a prepaid cell phone that Walters provided.

As I wrote about three years ago on my old blog, Walters history in Kentucky when he was younger is every bit as interesting.

In the 1982 Courier-Journal arrest story, Kentucky State Police and officers from Louisville raided a bookmaking operation “that they said was one of the largest in the state,” and that was based in a former restaurant near Crestwood on Ky. 22. Gambling records and materials confiscated included telephones, four of which “were equipped with 800 numbers so that customers could call long distance for free, police said.”

Bets were being taken from all over the United States, including as far away as New England and Philadelphia, police said.

Here’s a 60 Minutes profile:



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