US Prosecutors have announced that former Indiana state representative Sean Eberhart will plead guilty to a federal honest services fraud conspiracy charge related to the Spectacle Entertainment corruption scandal. Eberhart, 57, is the third lawmaker to plead guilty to charges linked to the Spectacle affair.
The scandal involves Spectacle Entertainment, which was formerly known as Centaur Gaming. It operated casinos and off-track-betting facilities in Indiana, including the Indiana Grand Casino and Racetrack in Shelbyville and Hoosier Park in Anderson. The company was acquired by Caesars Entertainment in 2018.
Eberhart, who represented Central Indiana’s House District 57 for 16 years, is alleged to have accepted money and the promise of future employment from Spectacle in return for advocating and voting for a 2019 bill that authorized the operator to relocate two gaming licenses from casinos located on Lake Michigan to downtown Gary, Ind. One of these later became the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana.
As a member of the House Committee on Public Policy, Eberhart used his position to reduce the transfer fee from $100 million to $20 million and pushed forward tax incentives that would be favorable to Spectacle. According to prosecutors, Eberhart was in text message communication with an individual at Spectacle referred to in court documents as “Individual A,” who promised him a job with Spectacle worth around $350K a year, including shares in the company.
The Spectacle corruption scandal also involved former Republican legislator and casino executive John Keeler, who pleaded guilty to charges of funneling money to former Republican State Sen. Brent Waltz in return for favorable treatment. Keeler and Rod Radcliff were ultimately removed from Spectacle, and a restructuring of the company made it a minority shareholder in what became the Hard Rock Casino.
In January 2020, state regulators announced that Keeler was under investigation for funneling corporate money to politicians. This ultimately led to Keeler being sentenced to two months in prison, and Waltz serving seven months after pleading guilty to making and receiving conduit contributions and lying to the FBI.