An ESPN "OutsideThe Lines" update on June 29 reveals golfer Phil Mickelson's name is tied to nearly $3 million in illegal sports betting money.
Phil Mickelson's name has been linked to illegal sports betting.
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This was the startling revelation of a June 29 ESPN "Outside The Lines" update from Mike Fish and David Purdum. Two sources say an amount of $2.75 million transferred to a mediator was part of "an illegal gambling operation which accepted and placed bets on sporting events."
The mediator, a former sports gambling handicapper named Gregory Silveira, pleaded guilty last week to laundering the said amount which belonged to Mickelson. The famous golfer neither has been charged nor has been placed under federal investigation, per ESPN.
Silveira pleaded guilty to two to three counts of money laundering which took place during a three-year span from Feb. 2010 to Feb. 2013. The money laundering incident is linked to an unnamed "gambling client" who sources say is Mickelson, per Fish and Purdum.
Silveira allegedly accepted the wire transfer of $2.75 million. Court documents reveal this amount was courtesy of a sports gambling client who wired the money to Silveira's Wells Fargo Bank account, per ESPN.
Fish and Purdum say Silveira then transferred the money to separate Wells Fargo Bank accounts in amounts of $2.475 million and $275,000. He then transferred the former amount to his JP Morgan Chase Bank account two days after he got the money from the sports gambling client.
Silveira reached an agreement with prosecutors on May 1. The signed plea deal says, "At the time, defendant initiated these three transfers with the intent to promote the carrying on of an illegal gambling operation," per ESPN.
The said plea agreement does not specifically name the gambling client. An initial plea agreement Silveira and his lawyer, James D. Henderson, Sr., signed early last month had a reference to the "money laundering funds from P.M.," per Fish and Purdum.
Two sources confirmed to ESPN the client is Mickelson.
According to ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson, Silveira confessed the main reason for the transfers was concealment:
"In his guilty plea, Silveira admitted that the prime reason for his transfers was concealment. He was attempting, as the money laundering law states, to cover up the source of the money (Mickelson), the nature of the funds (proceeds from illegal gambling) and the ultimate location of the funds (JP Morgan Chase Bank or another bank down the chain of his laundering attempt."
Munson stresses had investigators discovered Mickelson been complicit in this concealment, he "could have been charged with conspiracy to launder his money." No email or recorded conversation has been recovered as evidence. Hence, Mickelson escapes federal charges.
Silveira has a court date of Oct. 5, during which he will face U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Philips. His prison sentence could be as long as 60 years, but the ESPN update says it "will likely be far shorter."
Mickelson, Silveira and their respective attorneys declined comment to ESPN. Mickelson's personal attorney, Glenn Cohen, said another lawyer is assisting his client on the illegal sports betting issue.
Mickelson also made headlines last year when he, billionaire investor Carl Icahn and entrepreneur Billy Walters were involved in an insider trading investigation. Fish and Purdum say Mickelson "has been cleared in one of the alleged instances of insider trading."
The lefty golfer has long been known for his fondness for sports gambling.
In 2001, he won $500 from Mike Weir in the players' lounge at the NEC Invitational. According to ESPN, the PGA Tour reprimanded him for his actions.
Mickelson also bets on major sporting events such as the Super Bowl. His connection to Silveira has remained unclear, per Fish and Purdum.
Silveira made a name for himself as a sports gambling handicapper in the 1990s. He was linked to sports betting ventures such as the Football Betting Guide, Blazer Sports and Spot Play, per ESPN.
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