Billy Walters pleads not guilty to insider trading, keeps private plane, loses bong

billy-walters-insider-trading-pleaSports betting icon Billy Walters has entered a plea of not guilty to charges of insider trading filed against him last month.

On Wednesday, Walters (pictured) appeared in a Manhattan federal court to formally rebut allegations that he generated over $40m in illegal gains from insider info provided by former Dean Foods chairman Thomas Davis, who has admitted his guilt and is cooperating with prosecutors.

Following his plea, the 69-year-old Walters was released on $25m bond secured by $10m in property. Prosecutors had argued for a $50m bond and for Walters to be denied the use of his private plane(s), which they argued made him a likely candidate to flee the country in a bid to avoid spending his twilight years behind bars.

Walters’ attorney Barry Berke argued that Walters has had ample opportunity to flee the country in the two weeks since he was indicted, yet here he was. Berke also claimed that the scope of Walters’ business interests across six states wasn’t compatible with flying on commercial airlines.

US Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck eventually concurred, saying the flight restriction was “not worth the bother” while musing about how nice it was “to be rich and not flying coach.” However, Walters was forced to surrender his passport and his medical marijuana prescription card. The high roller will also be forced to submit to drug testing during his legal proceedings.

In a bid to mollify prosecutors, Peck required the two pilots on Walters’ payroll to sign on to Walters’ bond, making them liable for criminal prosecution and civil penalties if Walters did opt to leave the country. Unhappy prosecutors reportedly planned to contest Peck’s decision on the plane at a pre-trial conference scheduled for later Wednesday afternoon.

Pro golfer Phil Mickelson, a buddy of Walters and a notorious sports bettor, was not part of the criminal prosecution but was named in a Securities and Exchange Commission civil suit. Mickelson reached a deal with the SEC to return the $931k profit (plus interest) he made trading on allegedly illegal info provided by Walters.