3 plead guilty in southern Illinois auction scam

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by Associated Press

KMOV.com

Posted on October 17, 2013 at 8:00 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 18 at 12:46 PM

 EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) -- Three men accused of conspiring with ex-Madison County Treasurer Fred Bathon to rig property tax auctions pleaded guilty in federal court to one count each of violating the Sherman Anti-trust Act.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports John Vassen of Belleville, Scott McLean of East St. Louis and Barratt Rochman of Carbondale on Thursday acknowledged colluding with Bathon.

The three orchestrated a multi-year “pay-for-play” scam that cheated more than 10,000 property owners out of about $2 million in excessive interest and penalty payments.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Williams set the sentencing hearing for all three men for Feb. 21. They remain free on personal recognizance bonds.

Bathon pleaded guilty in February to rigging 2005-2008 tax lien auctions so that his political donors profited from inflated penalties paid by property owners.

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