(Corrects first paragraph to Thursday instead of Wednesday)
By Brendan Pierson
April 6 An attorney defending Las Vegas sports
gambler William "Billy" Walters against insider trading charges
told jurors on Thursday that prosecutors introduced testimony
about star golfer Phil Mickelson to cover up the weakness of
In a closing argument in Manhattan federal court, lawyer
Barry Berke said prosecutors brought in evidence about the
golfer because they did not have enough evidence against Walters
himself, likening it to "putty" used to patch holes in a wall.
Prosecutors say Walters made more than $40 million trading
in Dean Foods Co stock based on insider information from
former Dean Foods Chairman Tom Davis, and at one point passed a
tip to Mickelson. The golfer agreed to pay back money he made
trading Dean Foods stock but has not been accused of wrongdoing.
Berke attacked the credibility of Davis, who testified that
he passed inside information to Walters for years. Davis has
pleaded guilty to insider trading charges and is cooperating
Prosecutors say that in return for insider tips, Davis
received personal loans from Walters of more than $1 million.
Berke told jurors that Davis made up an elaborate lie to get
a sweetheart deal for himself, "reverse engineering" records of
his phone calls with Walters and Walters' trades to invent a
pattern of insider trading.
Davis said he told Walters in advance about earnings reports
and about a 2012 spinoff of part of Dean Foods' business.
Berke spent much of his argument pointing out what he said
were inconsistencies between Davis's testimony and the timing of
Walters' phone calls and trades.
He attacked Davis's testimony that Walters gave him a
special phone to talk about Dean Foods at a meeting at Dallas
Love Field, an airfield in Dallas. Berke said flight records for
Walters' plane did not fit Davis's account.
"It doesn't hold together like the truth," Berke said of
In a rebuttal, Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Goldman
acknowledged that Davis, by his own admission, had lied
repeatedly, not only while being investigated for insider
trading but about stealing from a charity he ran and about
But Goldman said Davis's testimony fit the record of phone
calls and trades, despite some inconsistencies.
"Tom Davis was asked to recall a years-long conspiracy,"
Goldman said. "He did his best to remember what he could."
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 Steve