The former Madison County Treasurer will spend 30 months behind bars and pay a $20,000 fine as a result of his guilty plea earlier this year in a price fixing scheme. 58-year-old Fred Bathon pleaded guilty to federal antitrust charges in February and has reportedly cooperated in the ongoing investigation. Bathon is said to have been the mastermind behind the plot to structure tax sales in a way that eliminated competitive bidding and allowed the tax buyers to engage in price fixing.
The buyers would only bid the statutory maximum interest rate of 18-percent. In October, federal authorities announced three more guilty pleas in connection to the case. 70 year old Barrett Rochman of Makanda, 56 year old John Vassen of O'Fallon, and 51 year old Scott McLean of Belleville entered the guilty pleas, and will be sentenced in February. As a result of their actions, more than 7-thousand parcels of land in the county were affected, leading to about $17-million in back taxes. Five property owners have filed a civil suit against Bathon and others - including Vassen and McClean - alleging they conspired to cheat taxpayers out of millions of dollars.