Men who helped rig tax auctions banned from participating

News-DemocratJanuary 28, 2014 

Madison County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler

Madison County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler issued a letter Tuesday banning three tax buyers, John Vassen, Scott McLean and Barrett Rochmann, from taking part in next month's county tax auction on the grounds the three have pleaded guilty to illegally rigging bids on previous tax auctions.

Prenzler issued the letter after companies associated with Vassen and Rochmann registered to bid in the county's Feb. 13 auction of delinquent taxes. Prenzler wrote that the three tax buyers may not participate, nor "representatives of companies in which they have a controlling interest."

The companies had listed both Vassen and Rochman as authorized representatives, Prenzler said.

Vassen, McLean and Rochmann could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The three are scheduled to appear on Feb. 19 before a federal judge in East St. Louis for separate sentencing hearings after pleading guilty to one count apiece of violating the Sherman Anti-Trust law.

In agreeing to the guilty pleas, they admitted in court in they conspired to restrain interstate commerce with the help of former Madison County Treasurer Fred Bathon. In early January, Bathon began serving a 30-month prison sentence at the federal minimum security prison camp in Terre Haute, Ind.

Vassen, McLean and Rochman each face between 10 months and 16 months in prison under sentencing guidelines.

This compares to the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million or twice the dollar value of the defendant's illicit gains.

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

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

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