Iowa judge dismisses charges against casino executives

A judge in Iowa has dismissed illegal campaign contribution charges against two Peninsula Gaming executives.

The Dubuque, Iowa-based casino company is building the Kansas Star casino near Mulvane.

Executives Brent Stevens and Jonathan Swain were among four people accused of funneling $25,000 into former Iowa Gov. Chet Culver's re-election campaign in the name of somebody else, and failing to disclose the contribution.

Polk County Associate District Court Judge William C. Price dismissed the charges today.

Prosecutors who brought the charges asked for the dismissal. They said there wasn't enough evidence to prove the executives acted willfully. Instead, evidence showed they acted on the advice of counsel, prosecutors said.

Stevens and Swain had been set for trial in June. Under Iowa law, the charges are serious misdemeanors carrying a maximum sentence of one year in jail and $1,250 fine.

The charges tainted the company as it went through the application and selection process with the state of Kansas to build and manage a state-owned casino in Sumner County.

The state's casino review board picked Peninsula's proposal for Mulvane over one by Oklahoma-based Global Gaming for Wellington in December in spite of the charges. The Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission approved background checks of the executives.

The charges were included in a resolution in the Kansas House that would have ordered the Kansas attorney general to go to court to challenge the state's approval of the casino. The resolution was narrowly defeated two weeks ago.

Peninsula Gaming plans a $260 million casino to be phased in over four years. Construction is under way at the Kansas Star's site near the Mulvane exit of the Kansas Turnpike.