In the American state of Indiana and a prominent former casino executive has reportedly been sentenced to serve two months in federal prison after being found guilty of running a scheme that illegally funneled gambling cash into a local politician’s unsuccessful 2016 congressional campaign.
According to a Wednesday report from the Associated Press news service, John Keeler (pictured) had been an executive with Centaur Gaming and okayed the 2018 deal that saw this entity sell all of its assets including the Hoosier Park Racing and Casino and Indiana Grand Racing and Casino facilities to Caesars Entertainment Incorporated as part of an arrangement worth approximately $1.6 billion. The businessmen then purportedly partnered with local entrepreneur Rod Ratcliff to establish Spectacle Entertainment, which later bought the floating Majestic Star Casino Hotel and Majestic Star Casino Hotel II venues in the Indiana city of Gary.
Spectacle Entertainment reportedly later successfully lobbied for the right to relocate one of these two riverboat casinos to a new and more profitable land-based site, which resulted in last year’s opening of the $300 million Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana development complete with a selection of 1,650 slots as well as 80 gaming tables. This Lake County facility is now purportedly owned and run by Hard Rock International while neither Keeler or Ratcliff are thought to have not maintained any direct involvement with their former employers.
However, before all of this and the Associated Press reported that Keeler had served for 16 years during the 1980s and 1990s as a Republican legislator in ‘The Hoosier State’. It was purportedly during this time that the 72-year-old first met Brent Waltz before later agreeing to help this Indianapolis figure run for the United States House of Representatives seat being vacated by Todd Young.
Judge James Sweeney from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana reportedly sentenced Keeler to the two-month prison term after the defendant had earlier pled guilty to filing a false tax return concerning roughly $41,000. Federal prosecutors purportedly contended that the disgraced former executive had surreptitiously passed this cash on to Waltz, who was then into his third term as an Indiana State Senator, via a political consultant utilizing straw donors.
The Associated Press reported that federal prosecutors had been seeking a longer custodial sentence for Keeler but the judge later disagreed after citing the defendant’s age, lack of criminal history and service as a state legislator. Nevertheless, he was additionally hit with a $55,000 fine while Waltz, who left the Indiana State Senate in January of 2017 after failing to win the up-for-grabs United States House of Representatives seat, is to now serve a ten-month term behind bars and be required to pay a penalty of $40,500.
In sentencing the pair and Judge Sweeney reportedly described the illicit political contribution scheme as ‘a plan with some sophistication’ that had been ‘clearly calculated from the start’ to help 48-year-old Waltz ‘get a leg up’ as he went in search for ‘that outside support’. Yet the hopeful candidate still purportedly struggled to raise additional campaign cash and eventually finished fourth in the five-candidate Republican primary for the United States House of Representatives spot.