Feds: Money stolen from ASC wound up in political campaigns

More than $42,000 of the alleged stolen money is thought to have been donated to several political campaigns. (WISH photo)
More than $42,000 of the alleged stolen money is thought to have been donated to several political campaigns. (WISH photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Federal prosecutors said former American Senior Communities executives James Burkhart and Daniel Benson abused their powers by devising a scheme to rip off millions from their former company.

An I-Team 8 investigation has uncovered that some of those funds wound up in the coffers of political campaigns of U.S. Senators and Congressmen from Indiana, according to federal election finance records.

James Burkhart, during the years of the alleged conspiracy 2009 to 2015, donated more than $42,000 to Indiana politicians and the election campaign for Hillary Clinton, according to a review of financial records by I-Team 8. The donations went to: Sen. Joe Donnelly, U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks, U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, U.S. Rep. Todd Young.

Burkhart, of Carmel, Ind., also made donations to Evan Bayh and President Obama’s campaigns, but those came in years that preceded the scope of the alleged conspiracy, the records show.

Burkhart, Benson, James’ brother Joshua Burkhart, along with Steven Ganote all appeared in federal court Wednesday afternoon to answer to charges of wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering.

Federal prosecutors allege that the men hatched a scheme that relied on shell companies inflating invoices for various services that were provided to ASC.

In turn, prosecutors allege the men then conspired to conceal the scheme in an effort to steal upwards of $16 million in kickbacks for themselves.

“The scheme was characterized by unbridled greed,” U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler told reporters Wednesday.

Many of the services – from consulting to lawn care to American flags — were offered by the shell companies or run by associates of the four men.

Part of the 32-count indictment alleges that James Burkhart worked to inflate invoice prices for Mainscape, an Indiana-based landscape company. The monies received in kickbacks then went to Mr. Burkhart, which he used to make political contributions, prosecutors allege.

I-Team 8 reached out to the various campaigns who received donations from Burkhart. Donnelly and Young said they planned to donate the money to charity. Brooks’ office said she plans to return the funds.

I-Team 8 did not receive a response back from Hillary Clinton’s campaign or from Carson’s office.