Bathon begins sentence at federal prison camp in Indiana

News-DemocratJanuary 15, 2014 

Former Madison County Treasurer Fred Bathon.

STEVE NAGY/BND

Former Madison County Treasurer Fred Bathon's home for at least the next 26 months will be a dormitory at the federal minimum security prison camp in Terre Haute, Ind., located in the Hoosier State's southern half and just east of the Illinois line.

Bathon, 59, arrived at Federal Correctional Institute Terre Haute's prison camp on Monday. When he's assigned a job, Bathon will initially earn 12 cents an hour, with his maximum wage rising to 40 cents per hour, according to Chris Burke, a Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman.

Bathon's arrival at the prison camp occurred nearly five weeks after a federal judge in East St. Louis sentenced him to 30 months in prison after pleading guilty to rigging the bidding on delinquent property tax liens for 10,000 property owners from 2005-09 in exchange for campaign donations.

During the sentencing hearing, Bathon had asked the judge to recommend to the bureau of prisons that Bathon be sent to the federal prison camp at Marion in Southern Illinois.

More than 150 miles separates Glen Carbon, Bathon's home of record, and Terre Haute.

The Terre Haute prison camp is home to 466 inmates. It is part of the federal corrections complex that includes a medium security prison housing nearly 1,200 inmates and a high security federal penitentiary that is home to more than 1,600 inmates.

The penitentiary includes the Special Confinement Unit for men who've been sentenced to death. Timothy McVeigh, the former soldier convicted of detonating a truck bomb at a federal building in Oklahoma City, Okla., in April 1995, killing 168 people, was executed by lethal injection at the Terre Haute prison in June 2001.

During his stay at the prison camp, Bathon will wear a uniform consisting of a buttoned khaki shirt tucked into khaki pants and belt during his work shifts, according to a list of prison rules and regulations given to each new inmate.

Like other inmates, Bathon won't be permitted to have more than one approved radio or watch at a time. Neither may have a value exceeding $75, according to prison regulations.

Bathon also may not possess more than three magazines, or eight books and newspapers for the previous seven days.

Bathon will also be able to take part in a wide range of activities, including painting, leathercraft and art. He will be authorized to have one completed project in his room, and may mail others to his home in Illinois.

The Terre Haute camp features rooms holding two, eight and 12 beds. Programs for inmates include GED and drug education classes.

Selected camp inmates may participate in a community talk tour called "Choices," where these inmates visit schools and speak to children that are already involved in meth.

Meanwhile, three of the tax buyers who played a crucial role in Bathon's bid-rigging scheme -- John Vassen, 56, of Belleville; Scott K. McLean, 51, whose company is based in East St. Louis; and Barrett Rochman, 70, of Carbondale -- each face between 10 months and 16 months in prison under sentencing guidelines.

A federal judge is scheduled to preside over the three sentencing hearings on Feb. 19 at U.S. District Court in East St. Louis.

Contact reporter Mike Fitzgerald at mfitzgerald@bnd.com or 618-239-2533.

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