Fred Bathon faces freedom

“I’m free as a bird now, and this bird you cannot change.”

— “Free Bird,” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

So former Madison County Treasurer Fred Bathon is out of federal prison. He was released Thursday, a sealed federal court document possibly explaining why he served 18 months instead of the 30 to which he was sentenced.

Did he rat out the other Democratic county leaders who had to know what was going on? No charges so far.

Up to 10,000 Madison County taxpayers lost millions when Bathon handed delinquent tax buyers the maximum 18 percent interest rate in exchange for campaign contributions. Tax buyers John Vassen, Scott McLean and Barret Rochman also went to the pen for the scheme and remain there.

His future as a free man is an open question.

His $90,000-a-year pension went away when he was put away. He is 60, but who wants to hire an older felon who admits being corrupt and willing to take advantage of people who already can’t pay their property taxes? He owes a $20,000 fine and faces potential civil liability as the delinquent property taxpayers sue him, Madison County and the delinquent tax buyers who conspired to rig the property tax auctions.

Bathon may be finished with his sentence, but his debt to society remains to be paid. We expect the jackal justice of Madison County to make a quick snack of Bathon and any property he still owns.

Hmm. Wonder if he’ll have any trouble paying his property taxes?