Phil Mickelson to take the Fifth if called as a witness in insider-trading case

March 28, 2017
World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play - Round Four

Richard Heathcote

Phil Mickelson has long been known as one of golf's great talkers, but it seems he won't be opening his mouth at an ongoing insider trading trial. Mickelson, who was cleared last year of any wrongdoing in the case involving gambler Billy Walters, could potentially serve as a witness. However, Bloomberg News reported the five-time major champion is unlikely to be called to the stand because he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Mickelson's intention, reportedly, was revealed in court on Monday during a sidebar conference between lawyers and the judge.

"He is on our witness list, but we understand from his counsel he would invoke his Fifth Amendment if called," attorney Barry Berke said, according to a transcript obtained by Bloomberg. "So he will not be called as a witness, although his name will be mentioned."

Billy Walters, a golf buddy of Mickelson, stands accused of making $43 million on inside-trading tips received by Tom C. Davis, the former chairman of Dean Foods Co. Mickelson made nearly $1 million in trades involving Dean Foods after receiving information by Walters, but regulators didn't charge him with any crime. Mickelson has paid back the money and has been named a "relief defendant" by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

During jury selection earlier this month, Mickelson's fame was a common topic of discussion.

"I’m going to excuse this juror," U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel reportedly told lawyers out of earshot of the potential jurors. "From my observations, there is an attachment. Mr. Mickelson’s name is out there, but this juror impressed me with a different level of reaction. The look of rapture on her face at the mention of his name and her repeatedly saying it wouldn’t influence her is enough for me."

At last week's WGC-Dell Match Play, Mickelson told the Associate Press, "I'm not a part of that . . . I'm out. I won't be called."

"I haven't even thought about it," Mickelson continued. "I don't think I'm going to say any more."