SHELBYVILLE, IND –Sean Eberhart, a former Indiana lawmaker representing District 57 covering Shelby County and parts of Hancock and Bartholomew counties, pleaded guilty to felony fraud charges in the Southern District Court of Indiana.
Eberhart has admitted his involvement in a conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government. In his plea agreement, which was filed on Thursday, he has requested a reduced sentence to avoid the maximum punishment.
The charge of honest services fraud, which violates Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Section 371, carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.
In late 2018 and early 2019, a gaming company called Spectacle Entertainment tried to obtain state licenses for two casinos located on Lake Michigan’s shore. The company wanted to relocate these casinos to more favorable locations.
In Indiana, a bill passed by the state legislature and signed by the Governor is necessary for the purchase and relocation of casinos.
The bill introduced in the Indiana House to allow Spectacle’s purchases and relocations included a “transfer fee.”
However, federal charges suggest that one of the owners of Spectacle, referred to as Individual A, promised Eberhart, a member of the Indiana House of Representatives, future employment at Spectacle if he advocated for the passage of the bill on terms favorable to Spectacle.
Eberhart allegedly used his position to authorize the transfer and relocation of the two casinos, reduce the transfer fee from $100 million to $20 million, and enact tax incentives that would benefit Spectacle.
The FBI gathered evidence such as text messages, call records, digital images of documents, covert recordings of conversations with Eberhart, and records of his statements and actions in the Indiana legislature.
While no final decision on sentencing has been made, Eberhart has agreed to pay $60,000 in restitution.
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