On 28 November 2023, former state Rep. Sean Eberhart is scheduled to plead to conspiracy charges at the federal courthouse in Indianapolis, as Indy Star reports. Eberhart, who was a General Assembly official from 2007 to 2022, is facing allegations on influencing the gaming bill beneficial for casino operator Spectacle Entertainment to get a $350,000 business engagement in return.
As reported, the allegations against Eberhart continue the streak of the Spectacle’s connections with the state legislature that have already resulted in prison sentences. According to the source, two other lawmakers pleaded guilty to corruption charges arising from their involvement with Spectacle’s predecessor New Centaur LLC.
Alleged Influence on Casino Bill:
Former Republican representative Sean Eberhart is being prosecuted for his alleged involvement in the 2019 casino license application made by Spectacle before the Indiana Gaming Commission for two casinos in downtown Gary and Terre Haute. As Indy Star reports, the General Assembly official allegedly helped the operator to have the necessary bill passed in the General Assembly and the casinos transferred from Lake Michigan in Gary to above two locations. The source indicates that Eberhart allegedly also played a key role to reduce the transfer fee for the Spectacle’s two casinos from $100 million to $20 million.
History of Allegations:
According to the source, the operator’s predecessor New Centaur LLC had a history of allegations over illegal activities. The company’s founder and CEO Rod Ratcliff sold Centaur to Caesars Entertainment in 2018 and started Spectacle Entertainment. This company allegedly engaged Eberhart already in the 2019 negotiations with the General Assembly that impacted a May 2019 law. But they have also resulted in the current Eberhart’s prosecution.
Other cases involving Centaur that resulted in indiction against the state representatives reportedly included former state Sen. Brent Waltz and state representative John Keeler. As reported, these state officials were indicted on conspiracy charges for funneling more than $40,000 from the company to their political campaign in 2015. According to the source, Ratcliff has never been charged with any crimes. On the other hand, Waltz and Keeler pleaded guilty and served time for tax fraud arising from the Centaur’s 2016 tax return that were allegedly used as political contributions.
A Series of Controversial Cases:
There is a series of controversial cases including Centaur and Spectacle, such as private jet flights arranged for politicians, lucrative legal contracts for House representatives, and engagement of the state officials for the company’s services. Although the Indiana Inspector General reportedly found no violations in these activities, such engagements have meanwhile reportedly resulted in resignations and retirements of some state officials.
Former state Rep.Sean Eberhart will reportedly now plead on conspiracy charges regarding the alleged role in passing the 2019 bill that favored the Spectacle casino operator and its controversial founder and CEO Rod Ratcliff.