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UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS

Re: United States v. Frederick Bathon

The United States Department of Justice believes it is important to keep victims of federal crime informed of court proceedings. This notice provides information about the above-referenced criminal case

Recent Event: Defendant Frederick Bathon pleaded guilty on Tuesday, February 5, 2013, to a one-count criminal Information charging him with a criminal antitrust offense in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1. On December 6, 2013, Bathon was sentenced to 30 months in prison to be followed by 2 years’ supervised release. He was charged $100 special assessment fee as well as fined $20,000.

Case Summary: Frederick Bathon was elected to be the Madison County, Illinois, County Treasurer in November, 1998, and served in that position until December, 2009. As treasurer, BATHON was responsible for conducting the Madison County, Illinois property tax sales in each of those years. For the tax sales conducted in 2005-2008, certain individual tax buyers bidding to purchase property tax liens in Madison County, Illinois, engaged in collusion to suppress and restrain competition to enable them to purchase tax liens at non-competitive interest rates. By 2007, and 2008, the bid-rigging and price-fixing was so pervasive that distressed homeowners were charged the statutory maximum interest rate on nearly every property tax lien sold; and tax the buyers did not submit competitive bids to lower rates. BATHON participated in this bid-rigging and price-fixing scheme and permitted the collusion by structuring the tax auction to reward tax bidders who were also campaign contributors. BATHON utilized a seating chart to ensure that his contributors were recognized by the auctioneer as winning bidders, he eliminated the competitive bidding process and instituted a “no trailing bid” policy to eliminate interest rate competition, and he directed the auctioneer to disperse the winning bids between his largest campaign contributors.

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.

 

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