Federal prosecutors in Indiana on Tuesday announced they had indicted a local gaming industry executive and a former state senator.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana said that Darryl Brent Waltz, 47, of Greenwood, Ind., was charged with a slew of alleged criminal activity in violation of federal campaign finance law.
Waltz, the former senator, was a candidate in the 2016 Republican primary election for the U.S. House seat representing the Ninth District of Indiana. The feds also charged John S. Keeler, 71, of Indianapolis, with similar criminal activity.
Keeler is vice president and general counsel for Spectacle Entertainment, a firm currently developing a casino in Northwest Indiana as authorized under the 2019 gambling expansion law.
What allegedly happened?
The feds said in a presser: “According to the indictment, Keeler, the vice president and general counsel of what was then known as New Centaur, LLC arranged with Kelley Rogers, a Maryland-based political consultant for the 2016 Waltz congressional campaign, to cause New Centaur, LLC to transfer thousands of dollars from its accounts to Rogers, who then contributed that money to Waltz’s 2016 congressional campaign.”
At the time, New Centaur was the parent company of Indiana Grand Racing and Casino in Shelbyville, according to the NWI Times.
“To conceal the true nature of the payments as illegal corporate contributions,” the feds continued, “Keeler and Rogers agreed that Rogers would create phony invoices and agreements that purported to reflect services to be performed for New Centaur, LLC, by Rogers. Upon receiving the payments from New Centaur, LLC, Rogers recruited several straw donors, including Waltz, to each contribute $2,700 to Waltz’s campaign, the maximum permitted under federal law at the time. The straw donors were reimbursed by Rogers using the money from New Centaur, LLC.
“Rogers also transferred a large portion of the New Centaur money to Waltz, who recruited additional straw donors to each donate $2,700 to his campaign. Waltz either reimbursed or paid these straw donors in advance. Waltz and Keeler concealed these illegal contributions from campaign officials, causing them to unwittingly file materially false reports with the Federal Election Commission.”
Implications for Keeler
Keeler reportedly is on administrative leave right now, and his future in the Indiana gaming industry is in question.
According to the NWI Times, the Indiana Gaming Commission is currently restricting Keeler from any involvement in the gaming industry.
“This matter is extremely serious,” IGC Executive Director Sara Tait said. “The ability for this company to continue to hold an Indiana gaming license is in question. To say the allegations outlined in the court documents are disappointing is a vast understatement. Mr. Keeler’s indictment and the separate suitability matters under investigation by our agency create an unprecedented set of negative circumstances.”
Tait added that the IGC “will continue to work with other agencies to ensure that all individuals associated with Indiana casinos are held accountable for any unlawful acts.”
The allegations against Keeler don’t appear to have any bearing on the $300 million Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana project, set to open next year. Spectacle Entertainment is developing the property that will be managed by Hard Rock International.