Indiana Election Candidate’s Illegal Gambling Conviction Could Sink Campaign


Posted on: April 30, 2024, 01:23h. 

Last updated on: April 30, 2024, 01:23h.

A Democratic election candidate in Indiana’s Vigo County could see his hopes of reaching office dashed because of a decade-old conviction for illegal gambling.

Billy Joy, Vigo County, Democratic Party, Terre Haute
Billy Joy, above, wants to be Vigo County’s next treasurer, but his past has returned to haunt him in the form of a decade-old illegal gambling conviction that could blow his chances. (Image: Billy Joy/Facebook)

Billy Joy of Terre Haute, Ind. is seeking the Democratic nomination for Vigo County treasurer in the spring primary on May 7. But two anonymous letters sent to The Terre Haute Tribune-Star this week raked up the candidate’s “criminal” past.

Back in 2011, the Indiana Gaming Commission began investigating Joy for illegal gambling, which led to excise police raiding poker games at Highway 40, a sports bar in West Terre Haute.

Joy was dismissive of the case when contacted by the Tribune Star.

“A bunch of my buddies and me were playing cards … and they slapped us with charges,” he said.

Underground Games

But court records show that police and regulatory officials believed that Joy was the organizer of the games at the bar, along with other games at another venue where sports betting and other types of gambling were also going on.

Private poker games are illegal in Indiana if someone is taking a rake or otherwise profiting commercially from the game.

Joy was arrested in November 2013 and charged with corrupt business influence (Class C felony), money laundering (Class C felony), and professional gambling (Class D felony). He ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of professional gambling which was reduced to a Class A misdemeanor after a year.

Joy was sentenced to a year in jail, with credit for one day served, one day good time, and 363 days suspended. He paid a fine of $1, court costs of $174, and was placed on probation. He also agreed to donate $500 to a local charity, according to court filings.

Vigo County attorney Terry Modesitt told WTHI-TV he was looking into whether Joy’s conviction made him ineligible to run for office.

Crimes and Misdemeanors

The problem for Joy is that you can’t run for office in Indiana if you have previously been “found guilty of a felony by a jury or the court [or] entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to a felony even if the felony conviction was later reduced to a Class A misdemeanor,” according to the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office.

Joy told the Tribune-Star he had not sought legal advice and appeared to be philosophical about the situation.

“If the legal system tells me I have to take my name off, that’s the way it will have to be,” he said.

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