April 11, 2022

Ex-Indiana legislator pleads guilty in casino probe case

Former Republican Sen. Brent Waltz of Greenwood. - FILE: Brandon Smith/IPB News

Former Republican Sen. Brent Waltz of Greenwood.

FILE: Brandon Smith/IPB News

A former Indiana state senator pleaded guilty Monday to criminal charges connected to a federal investigation that ultimately forced a casino company to give up its control of two major Indiana casino projects.

Former Republican Sen. Brent Waltz of Greenwood admitted taking part in a scheme to direct about $40,000 in illegal contributions to his unsuccessful 2016 congressional campaign and making false statements to FBI agents.

Waltz made the guilty plea before a judge one week before his trial was scheduled to start along with John Keeler, a former top executive of Indianapolis-based Spectacle Entertainment charged with directing illegal corporate contributions through straw donors to Waltz’s campaign.

Waltz’s plea agreement makes no mention of cooperating with prosecutors or testifying against Keeler. Waltz and his attorney, Russell Johnson, declined to take questions after Monday’s hearing, The Indianapolis Star reported.

Keeler has pleaded not guilty and his trial is scheduled to start Monday.

The September 2020 indictment of Keeler and Waltz was a key point in the investigations of Spectacle Entertainment, which led the Indiana Gaming Commission to force the company out of its ownership of projects for new casinos in Gary and Terre Haute.

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