Big prosecution falls short

Another public corruption investigation ends with a disappointing whimper.

Federal prosecutors spent years investigating a tax-auction scam in Madison County that resulted in the convictions of former county treasurer Fred Bathon and three tax buyers.

A year ago the last defendant was sentenced, and presumably the investigation has continued since then. Bathon’s sentencing was delayed for months in 2013, supposedly so he could provide more information to prosecutors. But now the investigation has ended without any additional charges.

This is reminiscent of the drug case involving former St. Clair County Judge Michael Cook, and the voter fraud case involving East St. Louis Democratic leader Charlie Powell. It looks like the wagons were circled and someone gallantly took one for the team to ensure another dead end. And maybe prosecutors want to appear tough on local political corruption – but not too tough.

In all these cases prosecutors seemingly had a great chance to dig deep, but ultimately came up short.