Former Republican Indiana House of Representative District 57 plead guilty
INDIANAPOLIS—Sean Eberhart, 57, a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives, has agreed to plead guilty to conspiring with others to solicit and receive the promise of future, lucrative employment with a gaming company in exchange for his support of legislation beneficial to the gaming company. The United States Attorney’s Office filed the charges along with Eberhart’s agreement to plead guilty.
According to court documents, Eberhart was the elected representative for Indiana House District 57, which included Shelby County and portions of Bartholomew and Hancock counties. Eberhart served on the House Committee on Public Policy, which had jurisdiction over matters concerning casinos and gaming in Indiana.
In late 2018 and early 2019, a gaming company called Spectacle Entertainment sought to purchase the state licenses for two casinos that were located on the waterfront of Lake Michigan, and to relocate those casinos to other areas beneficial to Spectacle. Purchases and relocations of casinos in Indiana must be approved through the passage of a bill by both houses of the Indiana legislature, then signed by the Governor.
A bill to allow Spectacle’s purchases and relocations was introduced in the Indiana House and considered by the House Committee on Public Policy. In addition to approving the purchases and relocations of the casinos, the bill included provisions for Spectacle to pay a “transfer fee.”
According to the federal charges, an owner of Spectacle, identified as Individual A, offered, and Eberhart accepted, the promise of future employment at Spectacle, which included annual compensation of at least $350,000. In exchange, Eberhart allegedly used his position as a member of the Indiana House of Representatives to advocate and ultimately vote for passage of the bill on terms favorable to Spectacle, including to authorize the transfer and relocation of the two casinos, reducing the transfer fee from $100 million to $20 million, and enacting tax incentives that would benefit Spectacle. Additionally, Eberhart allegedly sent text messages regarding his efforts to secure legislation favorable to Spectacle and to “make it right for” Individual A.
The charges were announced by Zachary A. Myers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, and Herbert J. Stapleton, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office. The FBI investigated this case.
U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant United States Attorney Brad Shepard, who is prosecuting this case.