The White House issued a release with a list of 143 people, who either received commuted sentences or were pardoned by President Donald Trump in his last hours of office.
White House Release Says Phil Mickelson Lobbied for Walters
Just a few hours before leaving office, President Donald Trump pardoned 74 people and commuted the sentences of 70 others. The list of 143 people, which was made public early Wednesday morning, included gambler William “Billy” Walters. In 2017, Walters was sentenced to five years in prison on federal insider-trading charges.
The White House said a number of golf industry figures, including swing coach Butch Harmon, broadcaster David Feherty, former pro Peter Jacobsen, former CBS News anchor Lara Logan and five-time major winner Phil Mickelson lobbied the President on Walter’s behalf. Phil Mickelson and the rest of the people were pointed out in the White House’s statement as sponsors of the action for Walters.
Mickelson Denies Involvement in Walters’ Clemency
However, Mickelson’s lawyer Glenn Cohen rejected any connection of the Hall of Famer with Walters’ pardon. On Thursday, attorney Cohen told ESPN that “Phil had nothing to do with this” and said that Mickelson did not send any letter or make a phone call to support Walters’ release. Mickelson’s lawyer said:
“The press release referencing Phil Mickelson is erroneous. The reason we are upset is because it’s untrue.”
Walters, a Las Vegas professional gambler, real estate mogul and philanthropist, was convicted in 2017 on 10 counts, including securities fraud, conspiracy and wire fraud. He was sentenced to five years in prison for making $32 million in profit and avoiding another $11 million in losses by trading insider information on Dean Foods, which he obtained from former company chairman Thomas Davis. Along with his prison sentence, Walters had to pay a $10 million fine.
Phil Mickelson was allegedly involved in the scheme by receiving a stock tip from Walters. According to the complaint, Mickelson earned nearly $1 million after Walters advised him in 2012 to acquire stock in Dean Foods. However, Mickelson was not charged with wrongdoing.
The gambler was released from prison in May due to the Covid-19 pandemic and was serving the rest of his sentence under house arrest. Back then, The Securities & Exchange Commission said Walters allegedly gave the advice to Mickelson so he could profit from a stock jump and repay him for gambling debts. Mickelson was ordered to return his $931,000 in profit from the stock trades.