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Billy Walters seeks leak investigation in insider trading case

Updated November 18, 2020 - 10:53 am

Attorneys for Las Vegas businessman and gambler Billy Walters are petitioning the U.S. attorney general and the FBI to take action over what they say was leaked confidential information by an FBI agent in Walters’ insider trading case.

Walters was convicted of insider trading in 2017. Authorities said he earned more than $40 million illegally trading the stock of Dallas-based Dean Foods. Walters served more than 2½ years in prison before his release earlier this year to serve the remainder of his sentence in home confinement because of the pandemic.

Walters’ attorneys have since filed a lawsuit in New York, saying federal prosecutors admitted in 2016 — before Walters was indicted — that an FBI agent named David Chaves leaked confidential details of the Walters investigation to reporters at The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. On Monday, Walters Attorney Pierce O’Donnell wrote Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray, asking that they take action over the leaks.

“This letter deals particularly with the intentional leaking of confidential investigative and secret grand jury information by federal law enforcement officers, the cover-up of that misconduct by those leakers’ superiors, and the failure to hold any of these officials accountable for this misconduct,” O’Donnell wrote to Barr in one of the letters.

The Walters lawsuit named Chaves, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Preetinder Bharara, and four other federal law enforcement officials as defendants. In the letters sent Monday, O’Donnell said Walters’ constitutional rights were violated by the leaks.

The letter asks for an independent investigation into the leaks and public disclosure of any “disciplinary, criminal or other proceedings that may, unbeknownst to Mr. Walters, have been initiated against any of the defendants.”

Walters’ attorneys said they also were pursuing complaints against Chaves and Bharara to attorney grievance committees in Massachusetts and New York.

Chaves and Bharara did not immediately respond to requests for comment made Wednesday morning.

O’Donnell said in a phone interview that he believes there needs to be accountability for the leaks.

“I’ve never seen a more egregious case of the intentional violation of a citizen’s constitutional rights and then a massive cover-up,” O’Donnell said.

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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