Trump commutes sentence of Billy Walters, famed sports gambler convicted of insider trading

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Billy Walters. (KLAS-TV)

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Las Vegas sports bettor Billy Walters, who was convicted on insider trading charges, had his sentence commuted early Wednesday by President Donald Trump, ending a bitter battle that lasted for years.

Trump issued 73 pardons and 70 commutations, announcing early Wednesday a list of those granted clemency with less than 12 hours left in his four-year term.

Walters issued a statement Wednesday after Trump’s action:

“I am thankful to the President and extremely grateful for the longstanding support of friends and family, especially my wife, Susan,” Walters said. “I have tried to lead a life marked by concern for others and I hope those qualities, along with the government misconduct that led to my wrongful conviction, convinced the White House to grant me clemency. I also hope this sends a strong message to law enforcement to refrain from illegal misconduct in pursuing their targets. I look forward to vindication as I pursue my civil damages case in federal court.”

Walters filed a lawsuit in October, alleging information leaks and lies to judges were factors in the prosecution of his case.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office admitted that (FBI agent David) Chaves illegally leaked secret grand jury information to the media as part of an effort to entrap Mr. Walters,” said Pierce O’Donnell, a senior partner with the Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP law firm in Los Angeles.

Prosecutors “covered up Chaves’s unlawful conduct for more than two years before being forced to acknowledge their wrongdoing. Without presidential clemency, this wrong never would have been righted,” O’Donnell said.

Walters is a high-rolling gambler who parlayed years of success into a golf course empire and other real estate holdings. Among the courses Walters once owned are Royal Links, Desert Pines and Bali Hai. A news release containing Walters’ statements described him as “retired.”

He was once profiled on “60 Minutes.”

“Yes, I am a serious recreational bettor, and I have been fairly successful over the years,” he said during an interview in 1999.

Walters also known for generosity with charities and contributions to political campaigns.

The insider trading investigation determined that Walters made more than $40 million in stock deals based on inside information. Professional golfer Phil Mickelson reportedly made $1 million on a stock trade that was investigated. Mickelson agreed to pay back the money and he was never charged.

Walters was arrested in Las Vegas in May of 2016 when charges were unveiled.

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