For the second time in the space of a little over a year, Phil Mickelson’s name has been attached to an investigation related to how he invests his millions.
According to a report by ESPN’s Outside the Lines, Mickelson wired millions of dollars to a 56-year-old intermediary, who then laundered that money on Mickelson’s behalf as part of “an illegal gambling operation which accepted and placed bets on sporting events.”
The mule was Greg Silveira of La Quinta, Calif., who has pleaded guilty to three federal counts of money laundering as part of a plea deal. Mickelson transferred funds related to gambling from February 2010 and February 2013. However, Mickelson is not under investigation in the case and has been not named outright or specifically in any documents related to the case. The report cites two sources tipping that Silveira’s “gambling client,” as alluded to in court documents (save for one now-erased reference to “P.M.” in the first signed copy of the Silveira plea deal), was Mickelson.
The plea deal centers around three wire transfers in March 2010 connected to Silveira which constitute money laundering. Silveira first accepted a $2.75 million wire transfer into a Wells Fargo Bank account from Mickelson. That money was then transferred in two installments — first $2.475 million, then $275,000 — over several days into another of Silveira’s bank accounts. Finally, Silveira transferred $2.475 million into another account he controlled with JP Morgan Chase Bank.
Silveira will be sentenced on Oct. 5 and could face up to 60 years in prison, though a much shorter sentence is expected.
Federal prosecutors, Silveira’s lawyer, Mickelson and his attorneys, as well the PGA Tour all declined to comment to ESPN on the case beyond public record.
Forbes ranked Mickelson as golf’s highest paid player in 2014, estimating he made $51 million between on-course prize money and endorsements with companies including Callaway Golf, Barclays, KPMG, Exxon Mobil, Rolex and Amgen. He is known to routinely play in big-money side games on the PGA Tour.
Mickelson also had a piece of a 2000 pre-season bet on the Baltimore Ravens to win the Super Bowl as a 22-to-1 shot. The Ravens won their first Super Bowl that season in a 34-7 romp of the New York Giants.
In 2014, Mickelson’s name surfaced in a federal investigation related to two instances of potential insider trading involving billionaire investor Carl Icahn and legendary sports gambler Billy Walters. Mickelson was cleared in one of those cases, but it’s unclear if the second investigation is still ongoing.