INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Two men, including one who was once involved in plans for the Terre Haute casino, plead guilty to federal crimes Monday.
According to a release from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana, John Keeler of Indianapolis pleaded guilty to his role in paying and receiving secret political contributions through a middleman during his time with New Centaur LLC, an Indiana-based casino company.
The release states that Keeler “paid $41,000 in New Centaur corporate funds to Maryland-based political consultant Kelley Rogers and directed him to funnel $25,000 to a local political party committee in Marion County, Indiana”.
The release goes on to say that Keeler further concealed this contribution by causing “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”.
Keeler was the vice president of Spectacle Entertainment and its chief legal counsel at the time that the federal indictment was first announced in September 2020. Spectacle Entertainment was at the time involved in ownership of the Terre Haute and Gary, Indiana casino projects.
After the indictment came down, the Indiana Gaming Commission forced Spectacle out of its involvement with the Indiana casinos. Greg Gibson then split from Spectacle Gaming to form Lucy Luck Gaming and secure the license for the Terre Haute casino.
Lucy Luck was denied renewal of its license in June 2021 by the Indiana Gaming Commission.
Churchill Downs was awarded the casino license in November 2021 and has plans to break ground on the Queen of Terre Haute Casino Resort later in the spring.
Former Republican State Senator Brent Waltz of Greenwood pleaded guilty last week to two charges involving illegal campaign contribution donations and false statements made to special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Keeler faces up to three years in prison, and Waltz faces up to ten years in prison. Their actual sentences will be determined by a federal district court judge, and the release states that the sentences are typically shorter than the maximum penalties. Both men will be sentenced at a later date.
The FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation investigated the case along with U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Myers of the Southern District of Indiana.