Former Indiana Rep. Sean Eberhart Gets One Year in Prison After Pushing Casino Bill in Exchange for $350,000 Job

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced a former Indiana lawmaker accused of pushing legislation favorable to a casino company in exchange for promises of jobs to a year and a day in prison.

Former State Representative Sean Eberhart pleaded guilty conspired to commit fraud in November and agreed to pay $60,000 in restitution, nearly equal to his annual salary as a lawmaker. He faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison, but prosecutors recommended leniency as part of the plea deal, The Indianapolis Star reported.

Eberhart’s attorney, Pat Cotter, declined to comment on the verdict when reached by email by The Associated Press.

Eberhart, a Republican, represented the central Indiana House District 57 for 16 years before leaving office in November 2022.

According to court documents, a company called Spectacle Entertainment sought to buy two casinos located on Lake Michigan in Gary, Indiana, in 2018. The company wanted to relocate the facilities to downtown Gary and to Vigo County in western Indiana. The legislature passed a bill approving the relocation in 2019.

Eberhart was a member of the House Public Policy Committee, which oversees Indiana casinos and gaming. Prosecutors allege he used his position to successfully lobby for the relocation and secure favorable terms for the company, including tax incentives, in exchange for a future job that would pay at least $350,000 a year.

The troubled casino company has been the target of multiple federal investigations in recent years.

In 2022, longtime casino executive John Keeler has been convicted, along with former Indiana state Sen. Brent Waltz, for their roles in a scheme to funnel illegal gambling money into the lawmaker’s unsuccessful 2016 congressional bid.

Keeler, a Republican lawmaker for 16 years in the 1980s and 1990s, was sentenced to two months in federal prison and fined $55,000. The Indiana Gaming Commission charged Spectacle officials give up their ownership in Gary and Terre Haute casino projects following the indictments of Keeler and Waltz in 2020.

Waltz, a Republican from Greenwood, was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison for helping funnel about $40,000 in illegal campaign contributions and making false statements to the FBI.


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