Mickelson, 51, is playing in the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Country Club for the first time. The story published Tuesday reported Mickelson’s ties to a bookie who allegedly cheated Mickelson out of $500,000, according to federal court documents the newspaper obtained.
“He didn’t say anything (in the story) that wasn’t true; I’m not complaining about that,” said Glenn Cohen, Mickelson’s attorney, in an interview with ESPN. “But why? Why are you going to embarrass Phil Mickelson when he’s there to support your tournament and the charities it supports and the Tour? Rocket Mortgage is a Detroit-based company. Phil has never played there before.
“I’m disappointed they would curiously pick this week to write an article about a bet that was made over 20 years ago and a jury trial that took place in 2007, where the guy who was convicted is dead and where the only purpose for this article is to embarrass Phil Mickelson.”
According to the News story, unreported gambling allegations outlined in a trial transcript that were filed in federal court in Detroit linked Mickelson with “one of the biggest gamblers in Detroit history, “Dandy” Don DeSeranno, who also handled bets for big shots as a Las Vegas casino host and book from 1994-2002.”
Mickelson was not accused of wrongdoing, but according to the trial transcript, DeSeranno was questioned about Mickelson during the 2007 racketeering trial of Jack Giacalone, a reputed organized crime leader. DeSeranno was granted immunity from federal prosecutors and testified as a government witness.
According to the trial transcript, DeSeranno placed a bet or bets on Mickelson’s behalf, and then was unable to pay the golfer his winnings.
“Phil and a bunch of buddies were betting on sports and they pooled their money and they made a large bet,” said Cohen, who has been Mickelson’s attorney for 23 years. “The bottom line is Phil wasn’t paid. The guy who took the bet turned out to be a crook and Phil didn’t know it. But it’s irrelevant. Whether this guy was the worst human being alive or had anything to do with Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance, what is the newsworthiness of this article now? There isn’t any.”
Cohen said Mickelson would not be addressing the story.
“My client would have no earthly reason whatsoever to make any comment about this,” he said. “I’m making these comments on my own.”
Mickelson, 51, won the PGA Championship in May, becoming the oldest major champion in the game’s history and earning his sixth major title.
The News story also referenced Mickelson being implicated in a 2017 three-way inside trading episode with noted gambler Billy Walters. Mickelson was named a “relief defendant,” meaning he was not accused of wrongdoing.
Walters was later sentenced to five years in prison and fined $10-million for his involvement. Prosecutors argued that from 2008 to 2014, Walters made more than $43-million from trades of Dean Foods by both realizing profits and avoiding losses. His sentence was commuted by President Donald Trump on his last day in office in January.
Prosecutors had built a case that Walters gave Mickelson inside information so the golfer could generate the funds necessary to repay Walters, whom he owed money. Mickelson settled by agreeing to give back his trading profits of $931,738 plus interest of $105,291. He did not admit nor deny the allegations put forth by the Securities and Exchange Commission.