Shiloh trustree resigns before entering guilty plea in Bathon case

O'Fallon ProgressOctober 22, 2013 

Shiloh trustee John Vassen, 56, resigned from his post Oct. 15 two days before pleading guilty in federal court to charges relating to his involvement in a multi-million dollar tax auction scheme in Madison County.

Vassen was one of three attorneys pleading guilty in the case, connected to a bid-rigging scheme involving former Madison County Treasurer Fred Bathon.

Mayor James Vernier Monday morning said he was dismayed by the news. He said he knew Vassen before he was elected to the village board. Vassen was first elected in 2003 and was in his third term as trustee. Vernier said he’s confident the case “has nothing to do with John’s role as a trustee in the village of Shiloh. Everything that John ever did for the village and the community, in the years I’ve known him, has been honorable. He is an honorable man…with outstanding (values),” Vernier said. “I’m sorry the situation is what it is.”

Vassen handed in his letter of resignation Oct. 15, said Village Clerk Brenda Kern.

“(Residents) would have to know because it happened in Madison County, and we live in St. Clair County. It had nothing to do with his role as trustee in Shiloh,” Vernier said. “I’m sorry that John’s in this position. He’s up against the federal government and sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

“John has been a very charitable and generous person to a number of organizations in all the years I’ve known him. He’s a good man, and this doesn’t come easily (for me). John’s a Democrat and I’m a Republican, which is a well known fact,” Vernier added.

Contacted Monday morning by the Progress, Vassen declined to comment.

Others pleading guilty in the case were: Barrett Rochman, 70, a winery owner form Makanda, Ill. and Scott Key McLean, 51, a Belleville resident.

According to court records, the men were released and are awaiting a sentencing hearing Feb. 21, 2014.

Read more details in the Progress’ print edition on Thursday, Oct. 24. rkirsch@bnd.com

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