Christina Stueve Hodges Mar. 20, 2013, 8:32am

St. Jacob attorney John Barberis and Collinsville lawyer Steve Giacoletto are requesting class certification in a lawsuit filed Feb. 21 on behalf of property owners who allege they suffered financial losses in relation to delinquent tax sale auctions administered by Madison County officials from 2005 through 2009.

Madison County Associate Judge Steve Stobbs was assigned to the class action lawsuit involving delinquent tax sales handled by former Madison County treasurer Fred Bathon.

The motion for class certification was filed March 18 in Madison County Circuit Court.

The class that plaintiffs seek to certify consist of anyone prior to and continuing through 2009 that directly and indirectly suffered damages as a result of illegal agreements or conspiracies whereby the defendants would ensure there was little or no competitive bidding at public auctions involving Madison County Tax Sales Certificates, the motion states.

It also states that the class would include, but not necessarily be limited to, persons whose property taxes were redeemed by them or on their behalf or who lost ownership and or equity interests in their property.

“Upon information and belief, the members of each class of persons affected by the defendants’ action exceeds 10,000 in number for the subject matters alleged in the plaintiffs’ complaint thus is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable," it states.

The plaintiffs and their attorneys will fairly and adequately protect the interests of each class.

Bathon, 58, who was treasurer from November 1998 until December 2009, pled guilty Feb. 5 in federal court to violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. He was convicted of structuring Madison County property tax sales in a way that increased prices and rewarded campaign contributors.

The suit names Madison County, Bathon, and individuals linked to the tax sale as defendants.

Madison County case number 13-L-276.

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