James Sparks, a Warsaw man charged in 2011 with illegal gambling, was sentenced this morning to one and one half years in Kosciusko County Jail.
Sparks, 40, stood trial last month, facing charges of corrupt business influence, professional gambling, contracting and failure to appear. After nearly three hours of deliberation, the jury found Sparks not guilty on three of the four charges. He was ultimately found guilty of contracting.
Contracting is a Class D felony punishable by up to three years imprisonment, though Sparks will only serve one and one half years with 55 days jail time credit.
Charges were initially brought against Sparks after an officer with the Indiana Gaming Commission began an investigation in 2010 into possible criminal activities surrounding charity gaming at Warsaw VFW Post 1126.
Larry Criswell, then chief financial officer for the VFW, told police that sometime in 2009, Sparks came to the VFW and presented the idea of a charity games/poker room. Members of the post voted to approve the idea and a charity gaming application was completed by Criswell, Sparks and Denise Messer.
The contracting charge stemmed from Sparks, who was being paid by the VFW to run the operation, bringing in and paying his own dealers from Fort Wayne.