Those questions burn at the heart of a counter-claim that tax buyer
The scheme forced 10,000
Luken, of Alton, claims that five current
Besides Dunstan and Gibbons, Luken names as counter-defendants Circuit Clerk
"Luken protested to many employees and officials about the fixed sales, including
Dunstan, Mudge and
Gibbons called Luken's allegations "absolutely ridiculous" and said they made no sense.
Furthermore, Luken's claims fail to explain how Gibbons could have had involvement in Bathon's scheme, Gibbons said.
"It just goes to show you that for anyone trying to put the taxpayers on the hook, to pay for the damages caused by the criminal conspiracy, it just continues to get more ridiculous," he said. "To claim that there was some knowledge, while this conspiracy was ongoing, it's completely baseless."
Also named in the counter-claim are the imprisoned Bathon and three taxbuyers who pleaded guilty to conspiring with him:
Other parties named in the counter-claim are tax buyers
Bathon, who pleaded guilty to a federal bid-rigging charge, is serving a 30-month prison term at the minimum security federal prison camp in
Vassen, McLean and Rochman have begun serving prison terms of between 16 months and two years at the minimum security federal prison camp in
Guilty pleas by Bathon, Vassen, McLean and Rochman -- as well as three class-action lawsuits filed against
The newspaper's probe of Bathon's handling of the tax auctions showed that in 2008, when 2,568 tax bills were sold, the winning bid was 18 percent on all but eight pieces of property. The 18 percent rate is the maximum allowed under state law.
But the 18 percent rate is just the start. After six months, if a delinquent tax lien is not redeemed, the annual interest rate charged to the owner doubles to 36 percent. The interest rate after 30 months of nonredemption skyrockets to 108 percent, according to the stipulation of facts that each defendant signed.
Vassen, McLean and Rochman were three of Bathon's biggest donors to his re-election campaigns. Bathon, in turn, was known for his generous support of fellow Democratic office-holders with money from his re-election fund coffers.
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