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John L. Smith On The Billy Walters Case And Adelson's New Role In The Stadium Deal


AP Photo/John Locher

William "Billy" Walters, in red, walks out of the federal court house Thursday, May 19, 2016, in Las Vegas. The Securities and Exchange Commission and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced an indictment Thursday against William Walters, and a former corporate board member of Dean Foods Co., Thomas Davis, alleging that the pair used non-public information about the company to make tens of millions of dollars in illicit stock trades between 2008 and 2012.

John L. Smith called this one. Back on our November 22 broadcast, Smith talked about leaks in the inside trading case against Las Vegas gambler Billy Walters. The case came from a grand jury investigation.

At the time, Smith said it was an interesting window in the machinations of Walters' attorneys, who were certainly going to challenge the validity of the entire case against Walters, because of these leaks.

Well, that's exactly what happened. Walter's attorneys filed what Smith calls a withering, 73-page memorandum in support of its recent motion to dismiss a dozen charges the gambler-developer faces.

And it's not a question of whether the information was leaked. According to Smith, an FBI agent has admitted that he talked to reporters. It remains to be seen how a judge will rule, and whether Walters may receive a get out of jail free card.

"I think it will probably still go to trial," Smith said, "There is a possibility however that they could always dismiss the case, make them retry it. They could also potentially poison some of the evidence, in other words, the fruit of the poison tree - if you got it in the wrong way or violated it, the judge can always strike things from the record. He can make it much tougher on the prosecution to get through their case."

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The Stadium

Smith also says it remains to be seen whether the Raiders will come to Las Vegas, and whether Sheldon Adelson will put up any money in a stadium deal.

According to his sources, the NFL might allow the Raiders to finance the stadium with backing from Goldman Sachs - and without the $650 million promised by Adelson. Whether that means that Adelson will be forced out of the entire enterprise, or whether he will still be able to control a stadium commission, or perhaps have a stake in team ownership, remains to be seen.

"It is really an interesting time for this," Smith said, "In just a few weeks, the NFL will wind up voting on it. So we'll know more then for sure. And Marc Davis still has time to submit his proposal to move the team, which he has not done officially."


John L's weekly column will also start this week at the Nevada Independent, Jon Ralston's online reporting venture, which launched yesterday.

"I'm really looking forward to it," Smith said, "It's a chance to focus on some local issues in print or online. I'm really excited about it. There is room for more journalism in Las Vegas. I think with Ralston and Thompson they've worked really hard to put it all together. They've got a growing team of journalists and a group of freelancers - like myself - are going to participate. I'm looking forward to it. I think it is going to be a lot of fun."

Martin Luther King Day

And, the week of Martin Luther King Jr. Day is one to look back on how open Nevada was to the holiday. Smith says not very.

"We're not quite Arizona," Smith said, "Arizona, under Evan Mecham, got its hackles up and denied the King holiday when other states were participating. This was a very slow evolution. As we know, after 1968, it took a decade essentially to get it to the floor of the House. And people talked about this holiday for a long time. Nevada was definitely not very progressive when it came to this... It did eventually go through, but it did take an awful lot of work just to bring the King holiday - the thing that we know take for granted and celebrate - it just took a lot of doing." 








John L. Smith, contributor 

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