By DEREK NORMAN
Professional gambler Billy Walters has yet to fold as closing arguments of the insider trading case finished in Manhattan Federal court Thursday, sending the jury to deliberate.
Looking for a flush, the defense spent the better portion of two and a half hours relentlessly smearing the credibility of the government’s star witness, Tom Davis, the former chairman of Dean Foods, one of the largest dairy distributors in the nation. Davis, who is facing lesser-charges after agreeing to provide testimony against Walters, has admitted to tipping Walters with insider information, as well as instances of cheating on his wife, lying to authorities and stealing from his own charities.
“You know blinders for horse racing… the kind they use so the horse can stay on track?” asked defense attorney Barry Berke to the jurors. “Well the prosecution kept these blinders on so that you would not see some things.”
Berke resurfaced many government exhibits and times throughout the trial where cracks appeared in the government’s argument. The “bat phone,” or burner cell which according to Davis, was given by Walters to discuss incriminating information, was brought back into question and stressed that it was actually used for extramarital affairs. And again, the phone records were displayed, highlighting all calls made between Walters and his brokers, which according to the defense were “cherry picked.” All the purportedly questionable evidence provided by prosecution, was referred to by Berke as “like putty, the kind you use to patch holes in the wall.”
Phil Mickelson, the champion golfer who made over $48 million in 2012 alone, was brought back into conversation as the defense presented his credentials and net worth, asking the jury why a man who has that much money would go into risky trades to pay a debt? “It makes no sense. This I would call putty,” said Berke.
“Mr. Walter’s may not be as educated as some of the Wall Street guys, but he learned a few things,” said Berke of Walter’s ability to play the stock market. “This was a gambler’s play. He goes all in. A lot of times, you don’t know what the deal is. But if it goes through, it’s good and if not, it’s bad. That’s always the gamble that Walters plays.”
The prosecution was given half an hour of rebuttal before the long trial was finally left to be shouldered by the jury alone. Stepping up to the lectern, Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Goldman, hastily tried to sway the jury one last time, as he resurrected government exhibits and attempted to rebut the defense.
“Ladies and gentlemen, you’re not gonna like Mr. Davis,” said Goldman. “He’s morally corrupt, he’s a womanizer and he stole money from a charity he ran. But how do you know that? Tom Davis told you that because he could not hold on to his lies anymore.”
“Billy Walters found his cash cow in Tom Davis,” continued Goldman. “And he milked it for all it’s worth.”
After the prosecutors called, throwing their last chips into the pot, the judge formally charged the jury. They went were sent into deliberation just before the end of the day, as both teams and the defendant must now await the verdict. There is an old gambling saying that goes, “eat your betting money, but don’t bet your eating money.” Soon the Las Vegas professional gambler will find out if he’s hit the jackpot or ate his last bet.
“The stakes are high, but there’s only one verdict to be reached,” preached Berke to the jury. “It’s all or nothing.”