Ex-Indiana Lawmaker Who Derailed State’s Online Casino Bill Gets Prison for Taking Bribe

  • Sean Eberhart got one year and a day in prison for conspiracy to commit honest services fraud
  • Lawmakers blamed the bribery scandal for ending hopes of Indiana’s online casino bill
  • Eberhart’s counsel Patrick Cotter tried in vain to argue against “unnecessary” time in prison
US courthouse in Indianapolis
A judge sentenced ex-Indiana lawmaker Sean Eberhart to a year and a day in prison over a gambling bribe. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Bribery scandal

US District Judge Matthew Brookman has sentenced the ex-state lawmaker behind a bribery scandal that killed off any chance of Indiana passing an online casino legislation bill in 2024 to one year and a day in prison.

conspiracy to commit honest services fraud

Judge Brookman delivered his judgement of former Indiana Rep. Sean Eberhart (R-Shelbyville) at the US Courthouse in Indianapolis on Wednesday. The sentencing comes after Eberhart confessed in November to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud.

The former lawmaker will now serve time in a federal prison for accepting a $350,000 annual salary with Spectacle Entertainment in exchange for supporting a 2019 bill that allowed the now rebranded Lady Luck Gaming to relocate two casinos in Indiana.

Judge Brookman took Eberhart, 53, to task Wednesday over his avarice, stating that while the ex-state legislator owned “plenty of assets” he “wanted more.”

“I have to think it was simply a matter of greed,” the judge told Eberhart.

Tell it to the bettors

Besides time in prison and one year supervised probation, Judge Brookman also ordered Eberhart to pony up $60,000 in restitution, pay a $25,000 penalty, and shell out $100 for a mandatory special assessment.

Brookman said he hoped Eberhart would use his time behind bars to think about his crime, telling him: “You’ve got a lot of life … You can put this behind you.”

According to the Indiana Capital Chronicle, Eberhart expressed remorse for what he did.

“I am truly, deeply sorry for what I did,” he said, while apologizing to those “harmed or disappointed (by) my actions.”

Considering Eberhart was blamed by Indiana lawmakers for putting the kibosh on the state’s online casino bill for 2024, he’s got potentially a lot of iGaming bettors to say sorry to.

In November 2023, Indiana Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bay (R-Martinsville) told Indiana Public Broadcasting that the shadow of bribery cast by Eberhart “taints the Statehouse.”  House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) concurred with Bay that Eberhart’s bribery scandal nixed any chance of online casino legislation making it into the 2024 legislature

Paying the price

Eberhart’s counsel Patrick Cotter tried getting his client let off with a sentence of probation, arguing against “unnecessary” time in prison. Cotter stated the fallout from his crime means Eberhart has “destroyed much of the life he spent decades building.”

disgraced in his hometown and state”

“He will be a felon, he will be disgraced in his hometown and state … and that’s worth more than any amount of money,” the attorney stated.

Judge Brookman wasn’t having it, outlining the seriousness of Eberhart’s crime because it involved a public official and that it was “critical” the public trusts representatives elected to office.

“You threw that (trust) away,” Brookman admonished.

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