One of the most time-honored sayings in life is there are only two sure things in life. Surely gamblers know this more than anyone as death and taxes. I suggest adding one more to the phrase as "Donald J. Trump only does things for only one reason and that only reason is HIMSELF."
Perhaps that is where we go trying to explain why, on the long list of 143 people, he chose to order either a full pardon or a commutation in sentence on his last day of office as President he included both William “Billy” Walters and Casey Urlacher.
Although both cases really had nothing in common whatsoever, what they do share is something much more important to our recent departing president. They either indirectly or directly did something for him in the past, can do something for him in the future or likely both. In any case, we can rule out that that Walters and Urlacher simply were granted clemency due to Trump believing there was some injustice or wrongful conviction.
Billy Walters, Hall of Fame Gambler
The legendary Walters was convicted of insider trading in 2017 and sentenced to five years behind bars. During his time as a professional sports bettor, Walters obtained cult-like status, worthy of Gambling Hall-of-Fame induction, if there was one. During his 39-year career, he was alleged to have amassed multi-millions from major Las Vegas sportsbooks, many willfully shutting him off due to his uncanny ability.
Alleged feature tales from Walters history include a 30-year winning streak with a $2.2 million winning bet on USC beating Michigan in the 2007 Rose Bowl. Also, a $3.5 million win in 2009 on Super Bowl XLIV when Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints beat Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts 31-17.
In 2014, he was quoted telling the Wall Street Journal that in a good year he could make up to $60 million betting on sports.
Trouble began when Walters was sentenced to five years in prison in 2017 for an insider trading case linked to professional golfer and PGA star Phil Mickelson, who ended up paying back nearly $1 million plus interest for his involvement, but was not charged.
While directly blaming Mickelson for his conviction, Walters said that Mickelson still owed him $2 million from gambling debts, offering inside information as an exchange payment. Mickelson benefited $1 million on the information, which was subsequently forfeited to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in a civil case.
Mickelson (a.k.a. Lefty), had his name thrown around by the White House, which said in a statement that Mickelson, along with PGA swing instructor Butch Harmon and TV commentators David Feherty and Peter Jacobsen helped with the commutation of Walters’ sentence.
The story has gained momentum with Trump enjoying a longtime, close relationship with Mickelson. He has played golf with him numerous times and hosted him at many of the golf courses he owns. On Thursday afternoon, ESPN published a story quoting Mickelson’s attorney, Glenn Cohen saying:
"The press release referencing Phil Mickelson is erroneous. The reason we are upset is because it is untrue. Phil had nothing to do with this."
Trump Grants Walters a Commutation
Within his final clemency list, Trump offered Walters a commutation of his sentence, which is different than a full pardon. It does not mean the crime is fully wiped from the record. Walters had a little less than a year remaining. He had been released from a Florida prison in April due to the coronavirus pandemic and allowed to serve the rest of his sentence at his Southern California home. The commutation merely negates the rest his time to be served.
Walters promises to diligently continue to deny any wrongdoing and fight for his innocence. In response to Trump's action, he offered these words to USA Today:
"I am thankful to the President and extremely grateful for the longstanding support of friends and family, especially my wife, Susan. 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."
A Pass for Urlacher
Nearly a year ago, Casey Urlacher found himself charged with nine others in a sports gambling case that could have put him in federal prison for a long time.
That prison threat still looms over his co-defendants. But on his last day Trump granted a full pardon to Urlacher, mayor of north Chicago suburb Mettawa and brother of popular Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.
A major part of the connection comes when Brian met with Trump at the White House in March 2020, shortly after his brother's indictment. According to media reports, a source said that visit was set up with the help of a U.S. Secret Service agent, a major Bears fan who had become friends with the former NFL player. Later in 2020 Brian Urlacher attended a Christmas party for White House staff, according to the source.
Records also show that Brian Urlacher made $6,125 in donations to Trump-related campaign funds following his brother’s indictment.
Casey Urlacher's defense attorney Michael Gillespie issued a statement Wednesday morning regarding the news:
“We are very thankful that out of all the thousands of petitions for pardon submitted to the president that he read and appreciated all of the outstanding qualities and decency that Casey possesses and saw fit to grant him a pardon."
Under the original indictment it said that Urlacher asked Vincent "Uncle Mick" DelGiudice to create a login and password for a new gambler on DelGiudice's illegal gambling website on Dec. 16, 2018. DelGiudice allegedly did so, setting a $500 maximum bet, a $3,000 weekly maximum for wagering and a $1,000 settlement figure.
On Dec. 21, 2018, Urlacher allegedly gave an envelope filled with gambling debts owed to DelGiudice to Vasilios Prassas, who was also charged in the indictment. That day, Prassas allegedly passed an envelope filled with Urlacher's gambling debts to DelGiudice with the remark, "This is Casey's."
Urlacher also allegedly asked DelGiudice by phone on Dec. 26, 2018, to shut down a gambler's account until that gambler paid a debt. That same day, after the gambler wired $3,000 to Urlacher, he allegedly texted DelGiudice and told him to turn the gambler's account back on. The Feds also say Urlacher paid a gambling debt to DelGiudice on Feb. 1, 2019.
The Common Thread
No, Walters and Urlacher cases among the 143 had nothing in common other than being joined together within gambling headlines. If we siphon through the other 141 granted leniency by the president on the list, we will find the same tactical conclusion to consider:
Billy Walters has a lot of money. Much of it could be potentially used to help Donald J. Trump's business ventures in the future and very potentially politically once we observe the outcome of recent events. Phil Mickelson will remain a loyal, famous golf pal and welcome for other business opportunities.
Casey Urlacher is tied to the Republican party and can also be of future political help should President Trump be able to return to the starting line-up. And besides, Go Bears!!
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, including previews and picks from Glenn, click here.