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Former Casino Executive and Ex-Indiana State Senator Sentenced for Election Finance Scheme

John Keeler speaking on panel on Jan. 10, 2019 (left); former Indiana state senator Brent Waltz (right)

John Keeler speaking on a panel on Jan. 10, 2019 (left, via YouTube screengrab/U.S. District Court Southern District of Indiana); former Indiana state Sen. Brent Waltz (right, via YouTube screengrab)

A former casino executive and a former lawmaker have been sentenced to time behind bars for plotting and carrying out election finance schemes.

John Keeler, 72, was sentenced to two months in federal custody after pleading guilty to causing the filing of a false tax return, the U.S. Department of Justice announced on Wednesday. Former Indiana State Senator Darryl Brent Waltz, 48, will spend 10 months behind bars after pleading guilty to receiving fabricated donations and lying and misleading FBI agents investigating those illegal contributions, authorities said.

Keeler managed to get money funneled from New Centaur LLC, an Indiana-based casino company, to a political party committee in Marion County, Indiana, authorities said. He used to be a former vice president and general counsel for that casino business.

From the statement:

Also, according to court documents, Keeler, former vice president and general counsel of New Centaur LLC, paid [Maryland-based political consultant Kelley Rogers] $41,000 in New Centaur corporate funds and directed him to funnel $25,000 to a local political party committee in Marion County, Indiana. To further conceal the nature of the contribution, Keeler caused 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.

That committee was reportedly the Greater Indianapolis Republican Finance Committee, a political action committee associated with the Marion County Republican Party.

Waltz, who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2016 and lost, funneled $40,500 in “illegal conduit contributions” to his congressional campaign, federal authorities said. Rogers directed corporate funds from New Centaur into Waltz’s campaign through more than a dozen straw donors and Waltz as well.

Many of those straw donors were Waltz’s relatives, authorities said.

“A ‘straw donor’ is a person who contributes to a campaign in his or her name despite receiving an advance payment or subsequent reimbursement of all or a part of that contribution from another source, thereby acting as an intermediary between the true source of the contribution and the candidate or campaign that receives the contribution, which is prohibited under federal law,” the indictment against Waltz and Keeler said.

Keeler and Waltz pleaded guilty in April.

“Two men have pleaded guilty to federal crimes for their roles in paying and receiving secret political contributions through a middleman,” a DOJ press release said at the time.

“The integrity of our elections is of paramount importance to maintaining public trust in our democratic process,” said Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division. “Today’s sentencings demonstrate that the FBI is committed to ensuring that those who attempt to undermine the public’s trust by perpetrating election finance schemes and then compounding their misdeeds by lying to authorities, will ultimately be held to account for their actions.”

Marisa Sarnoff contributed to this report.

[Image via YouTube screengrab/United States District Court Southern District of Indiana.]

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