| March 15
March 15 The lawyer defending Las Vegas sports
gambler William "Billy" Walters against insider trading charges
said the U.S. government's key witness, former Dean Foods Co
Chairman Tom Davis, turned on his client to win a
sweetheart deal for himself.
"The only thing Billy Walters is guilty of is being friends
with and trusting Tom Davis," lawyer Barry Berke said in his
opening argument to jurors in a trial in federal court in
Prosecutors say Davis passed confidential information about
Dean Foods to Walters, allowing him to make more than $40
million in profits and avoided losses between 2008 and 2014.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Ferrara kicked off the trial
with his own opening statement laying out the charges against
Walters. He said phone and trading records would show that
Walters often traded in Dean Foods stock after speaking to
Davis, sometimes within minutes.
Ferrara also told the jury that Davis will testify about how
he used a prepaid "burner" phone to pass on tips to Walters,
using "Dallas Cowboys" as code for Dean Foods and eventually
throwing the phone in a creek.
In return for the tips, Walters made personal loans to Davis
of almost $1 million, Ferrara said.
"Walters broke the law again and again by placing his own
greed ahead of the laws designed to make the stock market fair,"
Berke told jurors that Davis, facing charges that he engaged
in insider trading, stole from a charity he ran and committed
tax fraud, repeatedly changed his story to prosecutors in an
effort to win a plea deal.
Berke promised to show that Davis' testimony was made up of
"lies," and said the story of the burner phone was entirely
Walters, 70, was arrested in May 2016 in Las Vegas on
charges of securities and wire fraud.
In addition to the charges about Dean Foods, Walters is also
accused of making $1 million trading on a tip about Darden
Prosecutors also say Walters passed insider information to
star golfer Phil Mickelson, who agreed to pay back more than $1
million that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said he
earned trading Dean Foods shares.
It is not clear whether Mickelson will testify, though
potential jurors were asked about their views of him.
The case is U.S. v. Davis et al, U.S. District Court,
Southern District of New York, No. 16-cr-00338.
(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Jonathan