Former Indiana Legislator Pleads Guilty in Fraud Case

( – Lifelong Shelby County resident Sean Eberhart represented Indiana’s 57th District in the state’s House of Representatives from 2006 to 2022 when he returned to the private sector. The Republican lawmaker served on the chamber’s Public Policy Committee beginning in the 2017 legislative session through his retirement. A recent report indicated that he plans to enter a guilty plea in a fraud case dating back several years.

On November 10, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana issued a press release detailing Eberhart’s agreement to plead guilty to federal corruption charges. The statement indicated that federal prosecutors charged the former lawmaker for his effort to conspire with others to solicit and obtain a promise of “lucrative” future employment with a gaming company in exchange for his support for then-pending legislation beneficial to that business enterprise.

Prosecutors filed the charges concurrent with Eberhart’s signed agreement to enter a guilty plea. Court documents allege that Spectacle Entertainment approached Eberhart in late 2018 and early 2019 about helping promote a bill allowing the gaming company to obtain a license to relocate two casinos.

As a member of the House Committee on Public Policy, Eberhart had oversight over all matters involving gaming and casinos in Indiana. Charging documents claim that one of Spectacle Entertainment’s owners, identified only as “Individual A,” offered Eberhart future employment at the company at a starting salary of “at least $350,000.

In return, Eberhart reportedly leveraged his position on the House Policy Committee to promote passage of the legislative measure enabling Spectacle to obtain the necessary permits and permissions to move the casinos from their Lake Michigan waterfront locations.

The Indiana House passed the gaming bill in April 2019. The state Senate passed the measure in February of that year, and Gov. Eric Joseph Holcomb (R-IN) signed the measure into law.

US District Judge Matthew Brookman is presiding over the case. He hasn’t set a date for Eberhart’s sentencing yet but confirmed that prosecutors and Eberhart’s attorneys have agreed to a restitution payment of $60,000 — the equivalent of the former lawmaker’s salary as an elected official. However, the two sides haven’t addressed other possible penalties like incarceration.

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