Former Indiana Politician Accused of Federal Conspiracy in Casino Dark Money Case

Sports Betting News – Former Indiana State Senator Claims Innocence in Illegal Campaign Donations Case

Posted on: August 22, 2023, 08:14h.

Last updated on: August 22, 2023, 08:14h.

In a recent development, former Indiana state senator Brent Waltz, who had been imprisoned in August 2022 for accepting illegal campaign donations, has expressed his claim of being framed by federal prosecutors. According to IndyStar, Waltz also points fingers at his lawyer for his incarceration.

Brent Waltz, Centaur Gaming, Indiana
Brent Waltz, above, when he was an Indiana state senator. Waltz was sentenced to 10 months last year after agreeing to a plea deal he says was tailormade to put him in prison. (Image: Fox)

Waltz, a former Republican state senator, had served seven months in prison after pleading guilty to two felony counts related to illegal campaign contributions and lying to the FBI. He has since been released and is currently on probation.

In the plea deal, Waltz confessed to receiving $40,500 in covert campaign contributions from John Keeler in 2016.

Keeler, a former Republican state senator and the general counsel and vice president of Centaur Gaming at that time, was sentenced to two months in prison in 2022 after admitting to filing a false tax return. The charge was connected to his involvement in funneling money from Centaur to Kelley Rogers, a political consultant working for Waltz’s congressional campaign.

Claims of Innocence

In a recent affidavit submitted to the US District Court for the Southern District of Louisiana, Waltz strongly asserts his innocence, claiming he is “innocent of all charges.”

He emphasizes that he believed the prosecutors’ case was weak, as Rogers had informed the FBI that he deliberately concealed his illegal acts from Waltz and that the former senator was unaware of them, as stated in the affidavit.

Although Waltz was prepared to fight the charges at trial, he shares concerns that a jury might side with the prosecutors. Consequently, he agreed to a plea deal that dropped three additional charges. Unbeknownst to him, the deal was specifically designed to ensure his imprisonment, as stated in the affidavit.

According to the deal, Waltz pleaded guilty to illegally accepting $40,500 from Centaur. However, the actual figure was less, leading Waltz to express his confusion over the stated amount.

His confusion was also shared by his lawyer, who failed to recognize that admitting to less than $40K in illegal donations could have resulted in a reduced prison sentence or no prison time at all.

According to the filing, any amount exceeding $40K carries a “presumption of imprisonment.”

Waltz alleges that federal prosecutors deliberately concocted the $40,500 figure to ensure his imprisonment, and that neither his lawyer nor anyone else present during the agreement discussions, were aware of this. This information comes from Waltz’s new attorney, Abraham Murphy, as mentioned in the filing.

His former attorney, Russell Johnson, admits to not researching the issue during the plea negotiations, as stated in the affidavit.

Hard Rock Project and Fallout

After Centaur’s Indiana properties were purchased by Caesars, Keeler went on to establish Spectacle Gaming with former Centaur CEO Rod Ratcliff. The new company operated the Majestic Star Casino in Gary and collaborated with Hard Rock International to develop a land-based casino in Northwest Indiana.

In January 2020, shortly after Spectacle and Hard Rock International began construction on the project, state regulators initiated an investigation into Keeler for channeling corporate funds to politicians.

Subsequently, Keeler and Ratcliff were removed from Spectacle, and the company underwent restructuring, becoming a minority shareholder in what is now known as the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana.


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