Crime Watch 8

Ex-Indiana lawmaker sentenced in casino money scheme

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A former Indiana state senator has been sentenced to 10 months in prison for his role in a scheme that illegally funneled about $40,000 from a casino company to his unsuccessful 2016 congressional campaign.

The federal investigation into contributions to Republican Brent Waltz’s campaign tied to a former casino executive led the Indiana Gaming Commission to force the company out of its lucrative ownership of casino projects in Gary and Terre Haute.

Waltz said during Wednesday’s court hearing that his “greatest regret” was that his actions tarnished his reputation as a public servant.

Former Indiana casino company executive John Keeler was sentenced Wednesday to two months in prison.

News release

“INDIANAPOLIS – Darryl Brent Waltz, 48, of Greenwood, Indiana, and John Keeler, 72, of Indianapolis, were each sentenced today for devising and participating in election finance schemes. Waltz pleaded guilty to receiving fictitious donations and for lying and misleading FBI agents who were investigating these illegal contributions and was sentenced to ten months in federal prison. Keeler pleaded guilty to causing the filing of a false tax return and was sentenced to two months in federal prison. 

“According to court documents, Waltz, a former Indiana State Senator and 2016 candidate for U.S. Congress, funneled $40,500 in illegal conduit contributions to his congressional campaign. Maryland-based political consultant Kelley Rogers directed corporate funds from Indiana-based casino company New Centaur LLC into the ‘Brent Waltz for Congress’ campaign through over a dozen straw donors and Waltz himself.

“Also, according to court documents, Keeler, former vice president and general counsel of New Centaur LLC, paid Rogers $41,000 in New Centaur corporate funds and directed him to funnel $25,000 to a local political party committee in Marion County, Indiana. To further conceal the nature of the contribution, Keeler caused New Centaur’s federal tax return filed with the Internal Revenue Service to falsely describe the $41,000 payment to Rogers as a deductible business expense. 

“The FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation investigated the case. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Chief Judge James R. Sweeney II. As part of the sentence, Judge Sweeney ordered that Waltz be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for two years following his release from federal prison and pay a $40,500 fine. Keeler was ordered to be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for one year following his release from federal prison and pay a $55,000 fine.

“‘Illegal and undisclosed corporate contributions damage public trust in our elections,’ said Zachary A. Myers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. ‘Secretly funneling illegal casino money into political campaigns is a serious crime and the criminals who do so will be held accountable.’

“‘The integrity of our elections is of paramount importance to maintaining public trust in our democratic process,’ said Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division. ‘Today’s sentencings demonstrate that the FBI is committed to ensuring that those who attempt to undermine the public’s trust by perpetrating election finance schemes and then compounding their misdeeds by lying to authorities, will ultimately be held to account for their actions.’

“‘The sentencing of these individuals proves there are consequences for the misuse of positions of trust within both the private and public sector,’ said Special Agent in Charge Justin Campbell, Chicago Field Office, IRS – Criminal Investigation. ‘IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to protecting the integrity of our system of taxation by investigating individuals who violate our tax laws.’

“U.S. Attorney Myers, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division, and Justin Campbell, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago made the announcement.

“U.S. Attorney Myers and A.A.G. Polite thanked Bradley P. Shepard, Senior Litigation Counsel for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and William J. Gullotta and John P. Taddei, Trial Attorneys in the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section for their work in prosecuting these cases.”

U.S. Department of Justice news release issued Aug. 17, 2022