Gambler loses bid to dismiss insider trading case after FBI leaks

Professional sports gambler William "Billy" Walters departs Federal Court after a hearing in Manhattan, New York

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A federal judge has rejected Las Vegas gambler William “Billy” Walters’ bid to dismiss criminal insider trading charges after an FBI agent admitted to leaking details about the probe to reporters.

In a decision on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel in Manhattan said Walters failed to show he was prejudiced by the leaks, and that their “limited effect” on the complex probe into Walters’ alleged illegal conduct weighed against dismissal.

The judge also rejected Walters’ argument that the FBI agent, David Chaves, might have leaked information about other white-collar cases, and that this “history of prosecutorial misconduct” justified dismissal of the indictment.

Castel called the potential for a pattern of leaks by the FBI “concerning,” but said it “would not raise such serious questions about the fundamental fairness of the process that resulted in this indictment.”

Barry Berke, a lawyer for Walters, did not immediately respond on Thursday to requests for comment.

Prosecutors accused Walters of making more than $40 million through insider trading on tips from former Dean Foods Co chairman Tom Davis, in a scheme that entangled Phil Mickelson, the professional golfer.

Mickelson was not accused of wrongdoing, but agreed to pay back more than $1 million that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said he obtained by trading Dean Foods shares.

Davis has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors. The leaks are also being probed by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The case is U.S. v. Davis et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 16-cr-00338.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)