Phil Mickelson wired millions of dollars to a middleman, who then laundered that money as part of "an illegal gambling operation which accepted and placed bets on sporting events," according to a report from ESPN's Outside the Lines.
According to the report, Mickelson transferred the money to 56-year-old Greg Silveira of La Quinta, Calif., who has pleaded guilty to three federal counts of money laundering as part of a plea deal. Silveira pled guilty to laundering $2.75 million that he says belonged to Mickelson, according to the report.
The plea deal centers around three wire transfers from March 2010 to February 2013 connected to Silveira. In 2010, Silveira first accepted a $2.75 million wire transfer into a Wells Fargo Bank account from a "gambling client," identified in the report as Mickelson. That money was then transferred in two installments – first $2.475 million, then $275,000 – into another of Silveira's bank accounts. Finally, Silveira transferred $2.475 million into another account he controlled with JP Morgan Chase Bank. Those transfers constitute money laundering.
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 on the case.
Mickelson is golf's highest paid player, taking in an estimated $51 million in 2014 from both 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. He is also remembered for his piece of a preseason bet on the Baltimore Ravens as a 22-to-1 shot to win the Super Bowl before the 2000 season. They won their first Super Bowl that year 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.