ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Today, U.S. officials charged famed Los Vegas gambler Billy Walters with insider trading. They say he used illegal stock tips to buy and sell shares of Dean Foods, a Fortune 500 company. Golfer Phil Mickelson is also named in the case. NPR's Jim Zarroli has the story.
JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: Walters is a colorful Kentucky-born sports gambler, who's a shrewd bets strike terror in the hearts of casino owners. He spoke in an interview with "60 Minutes'" Lara Logan in 2011
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "60 MINUTES")
BILLY WALTERS: To me, in life, there's - you're either one of two. You're either a hustler, or you're being hustled. And, you know, there's an old saying amongst gamblers - if you look around the room and you can't find the mark, you're the mark.
ZARROLI: Prosecutors are hoping that this time, Walter's luck has run out. U.S. attorney Preet Bharara in New York says that between 2008 at 2014, Walters made 32 million dollars trading shares of Dean Foods. Walters allegedly had an inside source at the company, then-CEO Thomas Davis, a longtime friend. And Bharara says Davis would pass on information about upcoming financial announcements.
PREET BHARARA: These bets were no gamble at all. They were a sure thing because, armed with inside information from Davis, Walters traded in advance of good news and bad news alike.
ZARROLI: Bharara says the two men would communicate via a prepaid cell phone using code words. Dean Foods was called Dallas Cowboys. Walters also allegedly passed on tips to golfer Phil Mickelson, who owed him money, and Mickelson made nearly a million dollars in profit. Andrew Ceresney of the Securities and Exchange Commission says Mickelson, a three-time winner of the Masters Golf Tournament, has agreed to give the money back.
ANDREW CERESNEY: It's really an equitable principle that when you make money that you're not entitled to, you shouldn't get to keep it. So in this case, we charged him with that. We have not charged him with insider trading.
ZARROLI: Davis has already pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. As for Walters, he has beaten money-laundering charges three times before and clearly hopes he can prevail again. His lawyer said today the charges are based on erroneous assumptions, speculative theories and false finger-pointing. Jim Zarroli, NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.