Fred Bathon this week is expected to start paying for his crimes with 30 months of his life. Madison County taxpayers can expect to be paying for much longer.
Bathon let the buyers of delinquent property taxes abuse 10,000 of Madison County's residents by charging them 18 percent atop their back taxes, a practice that looted millions from those already in financial trouble. Tax buyers let Bathon have $140,000 for his campaign coffers.
U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton basically threw up his hands at the task of untangling the Bathon mess and figuring out the damages to the 10,000 victims. Well, you've got to love our local plaintiff's bar: Not only did someone think they could put a dollar amount on the damage, there are three groups of someones who think so and are behind three class-action lawsuits.
It is looking like $5 million in damages, with the formula to be determined.
Just before heading to the minimum-security work camp that Bathon will be enjoying instead of his coastal Florida retirement home, he visited some of those local lawyers and practiced his musical stylings. He sang for them like he's been singing for the feds.
We don't know what he said, but it's a pretty easy guess that he pointed fingers at a whole lot of folks who have been playing dumb, deaf and blind since our reporters started unraveling this scandal. It's just amazing how much distance is being claimed by members of that little political family now that there is a Fred-headed stepchild.
We hope no one buys into the idea that insurance will cover the $5 million bill. You know who ultimately pays the premiums, and you know what will happen in the future to those premiums.
And you know who to blame for their criminal acts or their criminal indifference.