Looks like it will be a danged hot summer in Madison County, and we predict that with absolutely no knowledge of the climatological forces. The heat to which we refer is generated by the movement of air from Fred Bathon's mouth.
The disgraced former Madison County auditor is heading from his beachfront retirement condo in Marco Island, Fla., to federal prison for between 31 and 40 months to pay for his crimes of letting campaign contributors charge millions in extra interest for delinquent property taxes, a scheme exposed by News-Democrat reporters. The exact time he serves depends on how much Bathon spills about the other vultures who fed on roughly 10,000 financially-troubled taxpayers.
Sentencing was delayed from May 17 to May 21 to give Bathon even more time to cooperate, but then U.S. District Judge David Herndon agreed last week to push sentencing all the way back to Aug. 30 to give Bathon more time to cooperate.
The federal prosecutors must be getting at something good to need all summer to grill Bathon. Bathon's defense attorney, Clyde Kuehn, wrote in asking for the delay: "this case involves co-conspirators who may be charged at a later date... defendant is currently cooperating with the government in its efforts to bring future charges against these conspirators."
The victims in this case already have three lawsuits naming the folks they think are responsible: Bathon, his former investment officer Jim Foley, and tax buyers including Barrett Rochman, Dennis Ballinger, John Vassen, Scott Sieron, Robert Luken, John Scott, Scott McClean and Edward Beasley.
It may get uncomfortable for some, but it should be an interesting summer.