Madison - St. Clair Record

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Supreme Court order granting leave to appeal bid rigging case restated

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Jan 20, 2016


After months of fighting for the right to appeal a class certification order in a Madison County suit involving bid rigging, an order was filed on the record outlining the Illinois Supreme Court’s conclusions.

The order, filed Jan. 6, reiterates what the state high court concluded in its Nov. 25 supervisory orders.

It demands that the Fifth District Appellate Court’s Aug. 17 order denying petitions for leave to appeal be vacated.

Defendants Madison County, public officials and tax buyers sought leave to appeal Clinton County Associate Judge William Becker’s June order certifying the class action, favoring victims of the tax sale scheme.

The order also holds that the defendants’ three petitions for leave to appeal are granted.

Plaintiffs in three consolidated cases claim property owners paid more than $2 million in excess interest due to inflated rates on delinquent tax sales. They claim the inflated rates were part of the scheme corrupting auctions from 2005 to 2008. 

The plaintiffs seek damages from the county and former treasurer Fred Bathon, who served time in federal prison for leading the conspiracy.

They also seek damages from tax buyers Scott McLean, Barrett Rochman and John Vassen, who pleaded guilty to charges involving the conspiracy and also went to prison.

Additionally, they seek damages from five other tax buyers and their companies and from auctioneer Jim Foley.

Becker was appointed to preside over the matter to avoid potential conflicts of interest. Shortly after he certified the class, several defendants sought review by the Fifth District Appellate Court.

In a 2-1 split panel decision, Justices Richard Goldenhersh and Bruce Stewart denied the defendants’ petitions for leave to appeal the certification order. Justice James Moore dissented, holding that he would have granted review.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 13-L-276

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