Two buyers of tax delinquent properties in sales rigged by then-Madison County treasurer Fred Bathon were sentenced Wednesday to prison for a federal antitrust violation...

Bathon, elected to office as a Democrat, strategically seated top campaign contributors in front of auctioneers to drown out the bids of others in the room, officials said. In 2007, officials said, 99 percent of the tax liens went to bidders at the statutory maximum interest rate of 18 percent. The rates dropped sharply under Bathonís successors..Bathon pleaded guilty earlier of an antitrust violation and was sentenced by Herndon to 30 months in prison, a $20,000 fine and two years on probation. Bathon also lost a public pension that might have been worth as much as $2 million...

Prosecutors said Bathonís top six donors, including McLean, Rochman and Vassen, got 76 percent of about 9,200 parcels auctioned from 2005-09, lending money on about $17 million in back taxes. The three other major donors have not been criminally charged.

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime...717d6c0257.html
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