Officials in Madison County are at odds following the ruling of an appellate court on Friday. The ruling, issued by 5th District Appellate Judge William Becker, denies the county’s appeal of a court order to certify a class action lawsuit on behalf of the victims of a rigged tax sale conducted by former county treasurer Fred Bathon. Madison County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler praised the decision in a press release, stating the lawsuit should be certified as a class action suit and that the county's Sale and Error Fund and Indemnity Funds could be used to settle the case before the county recoups money from Bathon.
Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons and County Chairman Alan Dunstan disagree with Prenzler. Gibbons agrees that the victims should receive restitution but argues the money should come out of the pockets of Bathon and his co-conspirators instead of county coffers.
You can read Prenzler's full statement below:
The Illinois Appellate 5th District Court in Mt. Vernon denied on Monday an appeal of a lower court order.
“I applaud Judge (William) Becker’s decision to certify the class, and the Appellate Court for denying the defendants’ appeal,” Madison County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler said.
Prenzler said that for months he has maintained this class should be certified, because the victims should receive restitution.
“It’s time for State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons and County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan to get on the right side of this issue and help the defrauded homeowners,” he said.
The county has benefited by about $2 million when Bathon lost his pension, which has reduced the county’s unfunded pension liability.
Prenzler said the State’s Attorney could use two county funds to settle this case — the Sale and Error Fund, which is around $500,000 and the Indemnity Fund ($1 million) — and then seek to recover the money from Bathon and his “cronies.”
“Gibbons and Dunstan should stop protecting the tax buyers who benefited financially and find a solution to provide restitution to the victims,” Prenzler said.