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Las Vegas sports gambler to face trial on insider trading charges

| NEW YORK, March 13

NEW YORK, March 13 Las Vegas gambler William "Billy" Walters is expected to go to trial Monday on charges that he made more than $40 million through insider trading.

The case has drawn attention not only because of Walters' renown as a wealthy professional sports gambler, but because of a connection to star golfer Phil Mickelson and an investigation plagued by leaks.

Jury selection is set to begin in the morning before U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel in federal court in Manhattan.

Walters, 70, was arrested in May 2016 in Las Vegas on charges of securities and wire fraud.

Prosecutors accused him of trading on tips about Dean Foods Co from the company's former chairman, Tom Davis, making $43 million in profits and avoiding losses between 2008 and 2014. Walters was also accused of making $1 million trading on a tip about Darden Restaurants Inc.

Davis has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors.

In a related civil lawsuit, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said that Mickelson at one point bought Dean Foods' stock on a recommendation by Walters, to whom he owed money after placing bets with him.

Mickelson, who has won three Masters golf titles, was not accused of wrongdoing, but agreed to pay back more than $1 million that the SEC said he obtained by trading Dean Foods shares.

News that federal prosecutors were investigating Walters and Mickelson leaked to the news media two years before charges were filed. An agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation has admitted to being the source of the leaks, which are themselves being investigated by the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General.

Walters sought to have the charges against him dismissed because of the leaks, but Judge Castel denied that motion earlier this month.

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 Jonathan Oatis)

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