Former Indiana casino executive faces new charges related to tax evasion

An Indiana casino executive is facing additional federal charges connected to an alleged scheme to make illegal corporate casino campaign donations to an Indiana congressional candidate.

John Keeler was indicted this week by a federal grand jury on two new charges related to illegally using the campaign donations to lower the taxable income for Centaur Holdings, parent of the casino company where Keeler was vice president and general counsel.

The additional charges were tacked on to an initial indictment that a year ago accused Keeler of four counts connected to an alleged scheme to use straw donors to illegally funnel casino money to Brent Waltz’s unsuccessful 2016 campaign for the U.S. House.

The new allegations accuse Keeler, a former Republican state representative, of filing corporate tax returns for Centaur Holdings that falsely listed $79,500 in consultant payments as deductions in 2015 and another $41,000 in fake consultant payments in 2016.

Federal prosecutors allege those payments were actually part of a scheme to funnel illegal campaign donations to Waltz.

A court hearing for Keeler on the amended indictment is scheduled for Oct. 6. Another hearing for Keeler and Waltz, who also was indicted in connection with the alleged campaign finance scheme, is slated for Oct. 14.

The allegations against Waltz and Keeler led the Indiana Gaming Commission to begin an investigation that impacted the construction of a casino in Terre Haute and the ownership of a casino in Gary.

The Gaming Commission forced Keeler and another top executive to give up their ownership stakes in the projects last year and eventually pulled the license for the Terre Haute casino away from the operators they had previously been involved with.

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