Crime & Safety

Former casino CEO and a former lawmaker sentenced for election finance schemes

A former casino CEO and a former lawmaker have been sentenced for setting up and carrying out schemes to get money for political campaigns.

The U.S. Department of Justice stated on Wednesday that John Keeler, 72, was sentenced to two months in federal jail after pleading guilty to causing the filing of a fraudulent tax return. Authorities say that former Indiana state senator Darryl Brent Waltz, who is 48 years old, will spend 10 months in prison after pleading guilty to getting fake donations and lying to FBI agents who were looking into these illegal donations.

Authorities say that Keeler was able to transfer funds from New Centaur LLC, an Indiana-based casino company, to a Marion County, Indiana political party committee. He once served as vice president and general counsel for that casino company.

“Also, according to court documents, Keeler, former vice president and general counsel of New Centaur LLC, paid [Maryland-based political consultant Kelley 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 statement read.

According to reports, this committee was the Greater Indianapolis Republican Finance Committee, a political action committee linked with the Marion County Republican Party.

Federal officials allege that Waltz, who campaigned unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2016, transferred $40,500 in “illegal conduit contributions” to his congressional campaign. Rogers transferred corporate funds from New Centaur to Waltz’s campaign through over a dozen straw donors, including Waltz himself.

According to officials, many of these straw donors were members of Waltz’s family.

The indictment against Waltz and Keeler stated, “A ‘straw donor’ is a person who contributes to a campaign in his or her name despite receiving an advance payment or subsequent reimbursement of all or a part of that contribution from another source, thereby acting as an intermediary between the true source of the contribution and the candidate or campaign that receives the contribution, which is prohibited under federal law.”

In April, Keeler and Waltz entered guilty pleas.

A DOJ news statement at the time said, “Two men have pleaded guilty to federal crimes for their roles in paying and receiving secret political contributions through a middleman.”

According to the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division, Wayne A. Jacobs, “The integrity of our elections is of paramount importance to maintaining public trust in our democratic process. 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.”

Jordan Collins

Jordan is an experienced editor with years in the journalism and reporting industry. He loves talking with the community about the problems local residents face and state politics. You can find him in the gym almost every day or see him jogging.

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