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Donald Trump grants clemency to legendary Las Vegas sports bettor

20 January 2021

(PRESS RELEASE) -- William "Billy" T. Walters, the retired professional sports bettor and businessman, expressed gratitude to President Donald Trump for granting him clemency and regaining his freedom while continuing to maintain his innocence in a highly publicized insider-trading case.

"I am thankful to the President and extremely grateful for the longstanding support of friends and family, especially my wife, Susan,' Walters said. "I have tried to lead a life marked by concern for others and I hope those qualities, along with the government misconduct that led to my wrongful conviction, convinced the White House to grant me clemency. I also hope this sends a strong message to law enforcement to refrain from illegal misconduct in pursuing their targets. I look forward to vindication as I pursue my civil damages case in federal court."

Walters was convicted of insider trading in April 2017 in a case marked by government misconduct. He was released to home confinement last summer after serving more than half of a five-year sentence in federal prison in Florida.

In October 2020, Walters filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York accusing five senior federal law enforcement officials–including Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Daniel Goldman, the former Assistant U.S. Attorney and David Chaves, the former Supervisory Special Agent who oversaw all white-collar crime investigations–of covering up and lying to the federal court about illegal leaks of false information to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

"The U.S. Attorney's Office admitted that Chaves illegally leaked secret grand jury information to the media as part of an effort to entrap Mr. Walters," said Pierce O'Donnell, a senior partner with the Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP law firm in Los Angeles. "Prosecutors led by Bharara covered up Chaves's unlawful conduct for more than two years before being forced to acknowledge their wrongdoing. Without presidential clemency, this wrong never would have been righted."

From hardscrabble beginnings in a Kentucky home with no running water, Walters became a renowned sports gambler, champion poker player and chief executive of a business empire with holdings in real estate, golf courses and car dealerships. Walters fully retired from gambling in 2016.

Walters is a devoted philanthropist, helping raise more than $50 million for Opportunity Village, a Las Vegas nonprofit that provides employment, vocational training and recreation services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Walters' own son, Scott, suffered significant brain damage after surgery for a brain tumor at the age of seven and, to this day, has limited ability to care for himself. In 1997, Walters was named Las Vegas' Outstanding Philanthropist by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

One hundred people wrote separate letters to the sentencing judge at Walters' trial, recounting numerous stories of Walters' kindness, generosity and compassion toward family, friends and strangers. In court papers filed in advance of Walters' sentencing, his attorneys noted that the U.S. Probation Office had recommended a sentence of just one year and one day. Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of 10 years.

Shortly after the sentencing, Walters' attorneys applied for clemency. A bipartisan group of Nevada leaders also sent a letter to the White House, requesting that President Trump grant clemency to Walters.

"We firmly believe that Bill's lifetime of good works and constant devotion to his fellow citizens exemplify the qualities that all Americans should aspire to,' the supporters wrote. Signers included former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, former Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons, former U.S. Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and her husband, former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman.

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