A newly filed court documents reveal that a former Indiana lawmaker was offered a lucrative future role at a casino company as well as an annual salary of at least $350,000 in exchange for using his elected position to facilitate the company’s relocation of two casinos.
Sean Eberhart, who served on the House Committee on Public Policy, agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit honest services fraud. The court documents state that Eberhart was approached in late 2018 and early 2019 by Spectacle Entertainment, a gaming company seeking to purchase state licenses for two casinos located on the waterfront of Lake Michigan and relocate them to downtown Gary and Vigo County. Relocations of casinos in Indiana require legislative approval, and Eberhart’s committee had jurisdiction over casino-related matters.
Spectacle Entertainment was created after the sale of the former Indiana Grand Casino and Racetrack and many of its executives had previously worked with Eberhart. The court documents also allege that Eberhart sent text messages in support of legislation favorable to Spectacle and that the company would pay a reduced transfer fee for the licenses.
Furthermore, Eberhart allegedly voted in favor of “terms favorable” to Spectacle in exchange for future employment at the company with a minimum annual salary of $350,000. The legislation was influenced to reduce the transfer fee paid by Spectacle for the licenses.
When the gaming bill passed in April 2019, Eberhart exchanged text messages with an individual involved. According to court documents, Eberhart wrote in one message, “We got work to do and 2 casinos to open.”
Eberhart’s attorney declined to comment on the case. If convicted, Eberhart faces serious legal consequences for not only violating the trust placed in him by the public but also in engaging in illegal, corrupt behavior to benefit a private corporation.