From Illinois Business Journal news services
EDWARDSVILLE — Madison County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler, CPA, said Friday he is pleased with the court decision this week to certify a class action lawsuit that seeks restitution for victims of rigged tax sales.
Prenzler said he is satisfied with the decision on Wednesday of Judge William Becker, an associate circuit judge from Clinton County, who has indicated he will grant the motion to certify the class action.
“It only makes sense,” Prenzler said. “The former treasurer, Fred Bathon, and three tax buyers are in prison for this crime.”
Bathon, who served as treasurer from 1998 until his resignation in 2009, pleaded guilty in 2013 to violating the Sherman Antitrust Act in relation to rigged tax sales. He was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. The tax buyers also pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme.
Multiple lawsuits were filed against the county in February 2013 by taxpayers claiming they paid excessive penalty interest on the sale of delinquent taxes. Becker heard testimony in January on the cases.
Prenzler said that from the beginning he believed the victims should receive restitution.
“This lawsuit is the last chance for these taxpayers who were harmed to be made whole,” he said.
The judge noted that during the years in question, 2005-2008, almost 10,000 delinquent tax sales were involved, enough to meet criteria for a class action filing.
The judge has set a hearing for May 28 at which time he said he will formally certify the class action.