Noted Las Vegas gambler and philanthropist Billy Walters, who was convicted of insider trading in 2017, had the final years of his prison sentence commuted Wednesday by President Donald Trump.
Walters was one of 143 pardons and commutations announced by the White House on Trump’s final day in office. He was served 2½ years in prison before he was released in May 2020 to serve the remainder of his 5-year sentence at his home in Carlsbad, California because of the coronavirus.
The White House said the commutation was supported by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, former Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons, former Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley, former Clark County Sheriff William Young, former New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, numerous professional golfers, including Butch Harmon, David Feherty, Peter Jacobsen, and Phil Mickelson, and former “60 Minutes” correspondent Lara Logan.
“I am thankful to the President and extremely grateful for the longstanding support of friends and family, especially my wife, Susan,” Walters said in a statement he released through a public relations firm Wednesday morning.
“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,” Walters said. “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 was sentenced to five years in prison for an insider trading case linked to Mickelson and Dallas-based Dean Foods Co.
Walters was previously named Las Vegas’ Philanthropist of the Year in 1997 and was known for giving millions of dollars to charitable organizations in Southern Nevada, especially Opportunity Village, a Las Vegas nonprofit for people with intellectual disabilities.
Before his conviction, Walters was a well-known sports gambler famous for his big wagers on sports betting in Las Vegas. Logan profiled Walters for “60 Minutes.” He was part of “The Computer Group,” which was formed in the early 1980s. The successful gambling syndicate was busted up by the FBI, but no one was ever charged with a crime.
According to the White House, Walters paid $44 million in fines, forfeitures, and restitution.
Walters filed a lawsuit in New York complaining that federal prosecutors leaked confidential information about him. One of the defendants in the lawsuit is former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York, whom Trump fired in 2017.
A comment from Pierce O’Donnell, a senior partner with the Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP law firm in Los Angeles, was included with Walters’ statement.
“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,” O’Donnell said “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.”
According to the New York Times, Walters hired former Trump attorney John Dowd to help him seek a pardon.
In 2014 profile in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Walters had a net worth estimated at more than $100 million, owned a private jet worth $20 million, and owned seven homes.
Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.