Billy Walters ‘Extremely Grateful’ for Trump Clemency, Still Pursuing Civil Case
In a statement released Wednesday, retired professional gambler Billy Walters said he was thankful President Trump commuted his five-year sentence on an insider trading conviction, but he also plans to proceed with a civil lawsuit against those who prosecuted and investigated his case.
Walters was one of 143 individuals who received either pardons or commutations in a list the White House released early Wednesday morning, in the waning hours of the administration.
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.”
He was convicted of insider trading in April 2017 and sentenced three months later. He was originally scheduled to be released on Jan. 10, 2022. According to the Trump Administration announcement, Walters also paid $44 million in fines, restitution, and forfeitures.
Last spring, Walters was released from serving his sentence in a Florida federal prison and allowed to serve out the remainder at his California home.
It’s unclear if Trump’s commutation took effect immediately. The Bureau of Prisons web site still showed the January 2022 release date on its registry as of late Wednesday night. It also showed he was still part of a residential re-entry program in southern California.
Clemency Campaign Lasted Three Years
According to the release, Walters’ lawyers sought a reprieve from the Trump Administration shortly after their client was sentenced.
Walters’ statement did not make reference to John Dowd, a former Trump attorney the New York Times reported was allegedly working on Walters’ behalf in the President’s final days in office.
A key part of the push for clemency was the allegations of misconduct by federal prosecutors and investigators, including former New York US Attorney Preet Bharara and former FBI Supervisory Agent David Chaves.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office admitted that 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, who is representing Walters in the civil case. “Prosecutors led by Bharara 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.”
Walters was accused of using information from a former chairman of Dean Foods, who was in debt to him, to make stock trades and reap substantial profits. He also was found to give that information to pro golfer Phil Mickelson, who then used the proceeds of his trades to repay his own debts to Walters.
Elected Officials Praised Walters’ Civic Work
Walters became famous in the 1980s as he moved to Las Vegas from his native Kentucky. He used computer technology to help identify sports betting opportunities. He also was a champion poker player. He leveraged the fortune he made in gaming and used it to operate a business venture that includes golf courses and automotive dealerships.
He’s also donated and raised millions for social causes, including helping to generate $50 million for Opportunity Village, a nonprofit agency that provides job training and recreational opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities. It’s an issue personal for him since his son suffered a traumatic brain injury at age 7 while undergoing surgery for a brain tumor.
A bipartisan group of Nevada leaders noted Walters’ philanthropic efforts when they urged Trump to consider his case. Besides former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and ex-Gov. Jim Gibbons, other signors on the letter included former U.S. Rep Shelley Berkley, current Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, and her husband, former Mayor Oscar Goodman.
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