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Waltz & Keeler Plead Guilty to Illegal Campaign Contribution – links casinos to political corruption

Today, The DOJ and FBI announced John Keeler, a former Indianapolis-based casino executive pleaded guilty to making false statements on the casino’s corporate tax return by concealing contributions to a local political party as deductible business expenses. In addition, Darryl Brent Waltz, a former Indiana State Senator and a 2016 candidate for U.S. Congress, charged in the same indictment, pleaded guilty last week to making and receiving illegal conduit contributions through sham donors and making false statements to the FBI.

According to court documents, Keeler, 72, of Indianapolis, former vice president and general counsel of gaming company New Centaur LLC, funneled $41,000 in New Centaur corporate funds to Maryland-based political consultant Kelley Rogers and an entity under his control for the purpose of contributing the funds to the Greater Indianapolis Republican Finance Committee to benefit the Marion County Republican Central Committee. Keeler then caused New Centaur to falsely report the political contribution to the IRS as a deductible business expense.  

In addition, Waltz, 48, of Greenwood, a former Indiana State Senator and 2016 candidate for U.S. Congress, pleaded guilty last week to funneling $40,500 in illegal conduit contributions to his 2016 congressional campaign. Waltz and Rogers directed corporate funds from New Centaur into the Brent Waltz for Congress campaign through several straw contributors and through Waltz himself. Waltz also lied to and misled federal authorities who were investigating the illegal contributions.  

Douglas M. Walkera * and Peter T. Calcagno studied casinos and political corruption in the United States using a causality analysis to conclude that there is “evidence that predicted casino adoptions Granger cause corruption convictions. This finding is suggestive of a scenario of regulatory capture and may help explain why state-level gaming regulatory agencies have a history of softening gaming regulations after the initial introduction of casinos. Our study provides the first empirical evidence linking casinos to political corruption.”  While Ken Poirot concludes: “Wherever there is power, greed and money, there is corruption”

Both defendants are scheduled to be sentenced at a later date. Waltz faces up to 10 years in prison and Keeler faces up to three years in prison. The FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation investigated the cases.

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