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Former state Sen. Brent Waltz and casino executive John Keeler have been indicted on campaign finance violations in an alleged straw donor scheme that funneled money to Waltz’s failed campaign for the U.S. House.

Waltz, 47, of Greenwood was charged with one count of conspiracy to make conduit contributions, false statements and to obstruct justice, one count of making and receiving conduit contributions, one count of obstruction of justice, and two counts of making false statements related to a scheme to route contributions through conduit donors to his 2016 congressional campaign in violation of federal campaign finance law, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Keeler, 71, of Indianapolis, was charged with one count of conspiracy to make illegal corporate contributions, false statements and to obstruct justice, one count of making illegal corporate contributions, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of making false statements related to a scheme to make corporate contributions to Waltz’s 2016 congressional campaign, the Justice Department said.

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State Sen. Brent Waltz. (Photo: IndyStar)

Waltz and Keeler did not immediately return messages from IndyStar.

Keeler, who is also a former state lawmaker, was vice president and general counsel of New Centaur LLC when he arranged through a Maryland-based political consultant, Kelley Rogers, to transfer thousands of dollars from Centaur’s accounts to Rogers, who then contributed the money to Waltz’s 2016 congressional campaign, according to the indictment. 

To conceal the true nature of the payments as illegal corporate contributions, Keeler and Rogers agreed that Rogers would create phony invoices and agreements that purported to reflect services to be performed for New Centaur LLC by Rogers, the Justice Department said. Upon receiving the payments from New Centaur LLC, Rogers recruited several straw donors, including Waltz, to each contribute $2,700 to Waltz’s campaign, the maximum permitted under federal law at the time, the Justice Department said. The straw donors were reimbursed by Rogers using the money from New Centaur, the Justice Department said. 

Rogers also transferred a large portion of the New Centaur LLC money to Waltz, who recruited additional straw donors to each donate $2,700 to his campaign, the Justice Department said. Waltz either reimbursed or paid these straw donors in advance. Waltz and Keeler concealed these illegal contributions from campaign officials, causing them to unwittingly file materially false reports with the Federal Election Commission, the Justice Department said.

The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by trial attorneys William Gullotta and John Taddei of the criminal division’s public integrity section and Brad Shepard and MaryAnn Mindrum of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana.

This story will be updated.

Contact IndyStar reporter Tony Cook at 317-444-6081 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @IndyStarTony.

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