Legendary sports bettor and convicted felon Billy Walters is reportedly allowed home after being granted an early release from prison.
A Las Vegas TV journalist announced earlier this week that Walters, who was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in July 2017 after being convicted of stock fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy, will be released from jail by the end of this week.
Both ESPN and the Las Vegas Review-Journal announced on Wednesday that Walters will be released on Friday or Saturday from the Federal Prison Camp in Pensacola, Florida — the same facility that once housed disgraced NBA ref Tim Donaghy—. Reportedly, Walters will be allowed to complete the remainder of his sentence from home in Carlsbad, California.
The 73-year-old Walters was expected to have been able to apply in January for a home confinement release based partly on his age, as well as having completed more than half of his sentence and the fact that his crime did not include abuse.
There was no evidence that the Pensacola prison was hit with the COVID-19 coronavirus, but the advanced age of Walters and the documented vulnerability of his population to coronavirus is likely a key factor in the decision to allow him to serve the remainder of his sentence in a more hospitable setting.
Walters was renowned for being a betting whale, both in casinos in Nevada and on some of the more risk-tolerant online sportsbooks allowed internationally. His fame / infamy was so big that in 2011, he was the subject of a 60-minute profile and tout services would falsely claim Walters affiliation to raise their profiles.
Walters was ultimately brought down in Fortune 500 company Dean Foods, whose former chairman Thomas Davis was deep in debt (including owing more than $1 m to Walters) not for betting but for using inside knowledge to sell shares. Walters reportedly gained as much as $32 million and avoided losses of $11 million by trading on Davis’s data.
Also involved in the scam was professional golfer and established betting aficionado Phil Mickelson who escaped indictment by repaying the nearly $1 m profit he received. Walters, who denied his guilt until the end, eventually blamed Mickelson for his arrest, telling ESPN that Mickelson declined until testify on behalf of Walters “because he was concerned for his endorsements.” Walters lodged an appeal to get his sentence cut short, alleging that the FBI had leaked information of the case and this forced the former chairman of Dean to cooperate with the prosecution. The appeal was rejected, and similarly unsuccessful was Walters’ attempt to get his case heard by the US Supreme Court.