Ann Maher Aug. 13, 2013, 11:55am

For a second time, a federal judge has granted a motion to continue the sentencing hearing of former Madison County Treasurer Fred Bathon who says his continuing cooperation with the feds in a bid-rigging case is “appropriate and mutually beneficial.”

On Aug. 8, Bathon’s attorney Clyde Kuehn of Belleville sought to continue sentencing that had been set for Aug. 30 for approximately 90 days. U.S. District Judge David Herndon granted the motion to continue on Aug. 9.

Bathon, who served as treasurer from 1998 until his 2009 resignation, pled guilty in February to violating the Sherman Antitrust Act in relation to rigging the county’s delinquent property tax sales.

He faces between 33 and 41 months in prison under the terms of his plea. He will also lose his entire public pension as a result of his conviction.

“While the Defendant is named alone in the Information, this case involves co-conspirators who may be charged at a later time,” Kuehn wrote.

“The Defendant is currently cooperating with the Government in its efforts to bring future charges against these conspirators.”

Kuehn wrote that the government does not object to the continuance.

A pre-sentence investigation report in the criminal case against Bathon was filed under seal on June 28.

Bathon’s conviction stems from delinquent property tax sales conducted between 2005 and 2008, during which time the U.S. Attorney’s Office says Bathon structured tax sales in a way that eliminated competitive bidding and allowed tax buyers to engage in price fixing.

The federal prosecutor’s office says the former treasurer awarded properties at non-competitive interest rates and made sure his largest campaign contributors were the winning bidders during this period of time.

And by 2007 and 2008, the office says the bid rigging and price fixing was so pervasive that distressed homeowners were charged the statutory maximum interest –18 percent– on nearly every property tax lien sold.

In addition to this criminal case, Bathon is named as a defendant in at least three civil suits over his handling of the county’s delinquent tax sales.

Bethany Krajelis contributed to this report. 

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