Sparks Found Not Guilty On 3 Of 4 Charges For Gambling

After nearly three hours of deliberation Wednesday, the jury found James Lee Sparks not guilty on three of the four charges he faced after his 2011 illegal gambling arrest. In closing arguments, Prosecuting Attorney Michael Miner argued that Sparks did approach the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1126 and proposed an illegal gambling operation that led to him being charged. The jury found Sparks not guilty of a charge of corrupt business influence, not guilty of a charge of professional gambling and not guilty of failure to appear, all felonies. He was found guilty of contracting, (intentionally entering into an illegal contract) a Class D felony punishable by up to three years imprisonment. These charges were brought against Sparks after an officer with the Indiana Gaming Commission began an investigation in 2010 into possible criminal activities surrounding charity gaming at the Warsaw VFW. Sparks, Criswell and Messer were all arrested as a result of the investigation. Criswell and Messer subsequently plead guilty to charges against them. Sentencing for Sparks is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Aug. 14 and he was remanded to the custody of the Kosciusko County Sheriff until sentencing takes place. Sparks was booked in the Kosciusko County Jail at 1:57 p.m. Wednesday, at which time a bond had not been set.