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Former state senator pleads guilty to accepting illegal campaign donations, lying to FBI

brent waltz.jpg
Posted at 2:58 PM, Apr 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-11 16:17:32-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Former state senator and Congressional candidate Brent Waltz pleaded guilty Monday to two felonies for allegedly accepting illegal campaign contributions from a casino executive and lying to the FBI, U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Myers announced.

Waltz, a Republican, was charged with violating federal campaign laws and other crimes in connection with his 2016 run to be the Republican nominee for the U.S. House's 9th District seat.

According to a federal indictment, Waltz and then-Centaur Gaming Vice President John S. Keeler routed $80,000 in illegal corporate contributions to Waltz's campaign through a Maryland-based political consultant and several straw donors in a scheme to skirt the federal limit on campaign donations. The straw donors, one of whom was Waltz himself, each gave maximum $2,700 contributions to Waltz's campaign and were later reimbursed by Keeler's casino company, the government said.

Brent Waltz
Former Republican state senator Brent Waltz (Twitter)

Waltz pleaded guilty to making and receiving conduit contributions, and making false statements to the FBI. He faces a sentence of up to five years in prison for each offense.

Keeler at the time was a executive for Centaur Gaming, which owned the horse-track casinos in Anderson and Shelbyville. Centaur sold the casinos to Caesars Entertainment in 2017.

Keeler is scheduled to go on trial April 18.

When the charges were announced in September 2020, Keeler was working for Indianapolis-based Spectacle Entertainment, which operated the Majestic Star Casino in Gary. Spectacle has since shut down and its casino license was transferred to Hard Rock International in August 2021.

WRTV has emailed attorneys for Waltz and Keeler seeking comment.

More: Former state senator indicted on campaign finance charges

The Associated Press contributed to the story.

Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at victor.ryckaert@wrtv.com or on Twitter: @vicryc.