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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Former Indiana casino executive pleaded guilty to tax fraud

Indianapolis ( Associated Press) — A former casino executive in Indiana pleaded guilty Monday to filing a false tax return in a plan to funnel cash to a political action committee affiliated with the Marion County Republican Party.

John Keeler’s guilty plea came just an hour before the trial began in US District Court in Indianapolis. He entered his plea a week after his co-defendant, former State Sen. Brent Waltz, pleaded guilty to other federal charges. for receiving nearly $40,000 in illegal campaign contributions for his unsuccessful 2016 congressional campaign.

Prosecutors agreed to drop five other cases against Keeler, a former top executive at Indianapolis-based Spectacle Entertainment, as part of their plea settlement, The Indianapolis Star. informed of. He will have to pay damages of $14,350.

Keeler faces up to three years in prison, but is likely to get less under the deal. His sentence has not been decided yet.

As part of his plea agreement, Keeler agreed to work with an out-of-state political adviser to funnel $25,000 to the Greater Indianapolis Republican Finance Committee, a political action committee affiliated with the Marion County Republican Party.

At the time, in 2016, the party was struggling financially, as per the plea agreement. Keeler wanted to help, but believed that Indiana law restricted casino company contributions.

Keeler was also accused of directing illegal corporate contributions through straw donors to Waltz, who was a Republican state senator for 12 years until giving up his seat in 2016 for an ultimately unsuccessful run in the GOP primary for the 9th Congressional District.

But those charges were dropped as part of Keeler’s plea deal.

Keeler and Waltz were indicted after a lengthy FBI investigation into Spectacle Entertainment, which forced the Indiana Gaming Commission to take the company out of its ownership. Number of projects for new casinos in Gary and Terre Haute.

The commission also brought charges of financial misconduct against Rod Ratcliffe, the former CEO of Tamasha., which agreed to give up its state casino license after more than a decade in Indiana’s gambling industry. Ratcliffe has not been charged with any crime.

Ratcliffe and Keeler were the leaders of Centaur Gaming, which in 2018 sold two Horse Track casinos in Anderson and Shelbyville, Indiana, to Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment Corp. for $1.7 billion. He led a group that formed Spectacle Entertainment to purchase the Gary’s casino operation.

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