Fred Bathon was the treasurer of Madison County from 1996 until he resigned unexpectedly in December, 2009. In that capacity, Bathon was responsible for administering the Madison County tax sale.
A county tax sale is a statutory enforcement procedure to collect unpaid property taxes from delinquent property owners. If a property owner fails to pay their tax bill after a series of notices, a lien in the amount of any unpaid taxes and any associated fees is sold at a public auction.
At Illinois tax lien auctions, investors bid to purchase tax lien certificates issued against delinquent tax payers. Investors compete to purchase these tax liens by bidding on the interest rate the property owner will be required to pay prior to redeeming the tax lien attached to the owner's property. The bid opens at the statutory maximum of 18 percent, and through a competitive bidding process, can be driven down to 0 percent. The winning bidder has the right to collect the amount of the lien from the delinquent taxpayer, along with the winning interest rate, in addition to any subsequent taxes paid by the winning bidder and applicable interest and penalties. The winning bidder has the right to foreclose on the property owner's right of redemption of the tax lien and take title to the property if the taxes owed on the property, accrued interest, or any applicable costs or penalties remain unpaid.
Certain tax buyers, including John VASSEN, Scott MCLEAN, and Barrett ROCHMAN engaged in a scheme to rig bids and fix prices. Those tax buyers reached an understanding that they would typically bid only the statutory maximum interest rate of 18 percent. The tax buyers submitted noncompetitive bids and refrained from submitting bids at lesser interest rates. Certain tax buyers, including John VASSEN, Scott MCLEAN, and Barrett ROCHMAN, made increased campaign contributions to BATHON so that he would continue structuring the tax sale in a way that maximized the interest rate applied to tax liens sold at the Madison County tax sales.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service and the Fairview Heights Field Office of the Springfield Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution of the case is being handled by United States Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton and Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Weinhoeft.
Since there are a very large number of victims in this prosecution, these cases may be designated as “Multiple Crime Victim” cases by Court Order under the provisions of 18 U.S.C. §3771(d)(2). Accordingly, the principal means of communicating and consulting with the investigators and government lawyers regarding these cases will be through a designated email for victims. If you are a victim, and wish to contact us, please send an email to USAILS-VW_ILS@usdoj.gov and provide your full name, mailing address, telephone number, and email address. Given the large number of victims in these matters, and our need to efficiently manage our multiple victim prosecutions, we ask that you communicate with us by email. If necessary, we can have someone respond to you by telephone.
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To any victim who plans on attending any Court proceeding:
Victims have the right to attend public Court proceedings, subject to some limitations as determined by the Court. For many reasons Court proceedings may be cancelled or rescheduled on short notice. If you are planning to attend a scheduled hearing, please check this web site for any updates before coming to Court.
Title 18, United States Code, Section 3771(a) provides:
A crime victim has the following rights:
(1) The right to be reasonably protected from the accused.
(2) The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any public Court proceeding, or any parole proceeding, involving the crime or of any release or escape of the accused.
(3) The right not to be excluded from any such public Court proceeding, unless the Court, after receiving clear and convincing evidence, determines that testimony by the victim would be materially altered if the victim heard other testimony at that proceeding.
(4) The right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district Court involving release, plea, sentencing, or any parole proceeding.
(5) The reasonable right to confer with the attorney for the Government in the case.
(6) The right to full and timely restitution as provided in law.
(7) The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay.
(8) The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim's dignity and privacy.
Since there are a very large number of victims in this prosecution, this case has been designated a “Multiple Crime Victim” case by Court Order under the provisions of 18 U.S.C. §3771(d)(2). Accordingly, the principal means of communicating and consulting with the investigators and government lawyers in this case will be through the completion of the “Contact Us” form below.
Contact Us If you are a victim, and wish to contact us, please send an email to us at USAILS-VW_ILS@usdoj.gov. Please provide your full name, mailing address, telephone number, and email address. Given the large number of victims in this matter, and our need to efficiently manage our multiple victim prosecutions, we ask that you communicate with us by email. If necessary, we can have someone respond to you by telephone.
United States Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Illinois
9 Executive Drive
Fairview Heights, Il 62208