Did A Mob-Connected Bookie Cheat Phil Mickelson Out Of $500,000?

Media reports recently surfaced showing that a mob-connected bookie allegedly cheated top PGA Tour golfer Phil Mickelson of $500,000. These reports were backed by federal court records.

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson

This allegation which has so far remained unreported, links the golfer with “Dandy” Don DeSeranno, one of the biggest gamblers in the history of Detroit. DeSeranno used to handle bets for high rollers in a Las Vegas casino from 1994 to 2002.

What We Know So Far
According to the court records obtained, DeSeranno’s link with Mickelson was revealed when he was cross-examined during Jack Giacalone’s racketeering trial of 2007. Giacalone was a well-known leader of organized crime in Detroit at the time, and DeSeranno had received federal immunity to testify as a government witness against him.

Neil Fink, the legal representative of Giacalone, brought up DeSeranno’s connection with Mickelson during the cross-examination to destroy the bookie’s credibility. Initially, DeSeranno pretended that he did not know the world-famous golfer. But later, he admitted that he had failed to pay Mickelson $500,000. However, he denied that he had cheated the golfer.

During Giacalone's trial, DeSeranno was trying to convince jurors of Giacalone's connection with a gambling ring worth $5.9 million. In an attempt to save his client, Fink wanted to present DeSeranno as a cheat and a liar, whose testimony cannot be taken seriously.

Under the cross-examination, DeSeranno admitted that he was involved in bust-out schemes, in which he borrowed huge sums of money from casinos before going bankrupt. He also admitted that he owed Giacalone $300,000.

Glenn Cohen, Mickelson’s lawyer, said that the golfer had no idea about DeSeranno’s history when he placed sports bets with him. Cohen told the media that it is old news and that his client has done nothing wrong.

The transcript appeared in Giacalone’s court files only in 2018 even though the trial took place in 2007 and Giacalone was acquitted at that time. It was brought to light when Giacalone was sentenced to prison earlier this month because of an overdue tax bill exceeding $537,222.

Is There A Connection Between The Two?
One cannot imagine any connection between Mickelson and DeSeranno. The latter is believed to be connected with a mafia organization called La Cosa Nostra (LCN). He was also a host at the Hilton Hotels and Casino in Las Vegas, gambling and losing $300,000 to $500,000 per year.

We must also highlight that he was a bankrupt army veteran who used to play blackjack for free and place sports bets with the interest he earned on a trust fund worth $4 million. He wore flashy clothes, drove Ford Thunderbirds, and lived lavishly.

On the other hand, Mickelson is the winner of six major championships. He also occupies the second position on the PGA Tour all-time money list as he is worth over 494.6 million. According to Forbes, he has earned close to $800 million in sponsorship deals. His thriving golf career, however, is blemished with scandals.

One of these scandals is the golfer’s connections with William “Billy” Walters, a Las Vegas gambler who was convicted of securities fraud, conspiracy, and wire fraud. Prosecutors told the jury that he helped Mickelson earn $1 million to pay off gambling debts in 2012. The Securities and Exchange Commission had filed a lawsuit against Mickelson, who agreed that he would repay the funds. The golfer, however, was not charged with any wrongdoing.

No Investigation On Mickelson
Federal prosecutors say that no gambling investigation was carried out on Mickelson despite his connection with DeSeranno. Federal prosecutor Corbett told the media that they never considered him as a wrongdoer. According to federal laws, placing bets on sports events is not a crime, and Mickelson had only placed sports bets with a bookmaker who allegedly cheated him of a huge amount.

Nobody knows how Neil Fink discovered the connection between Mickelson and DeSeranno, who died peacefully of natural causes in April 2021 at the age of 75.

In an email to the media, Fink’s wife says that she doesn’t know how the lawyer got hold of the information. She said that he was a brilliant lawyer who never failed to detect the weak areas of those in the witness box.

Fink could have found the information in DeSeranno’s bankruptcy case of 2002, which was filed five years before Giacalone’s trial. The case file includes a list of creditors, which mentions the name of P. Michelson, possibly referring to the golfer.

However, Mickelson was not close to DeSeranno. According to the golfer’s lawyer, Mickelson and his friends were into sports betting in those days, and Mickelson placed bets with DeSeranno without knowing anything about his history. The bookie owed Mickelson $500,000, which he would not or could not pay him.

Mickelson is scheduled to participate in the Rocket Mortgage Classicwhich will begin shortly at the Detroit Golf Club. The 51-year-old golfer became the oldest major champion in the history of golf after winning the PGA Championship.