A Carbondale businessman has pleaded guilty to price–fixing in connection with a case against Madison County's former Treasurer.
The U–S Attorney's Office says 70 year old Barrett Rochman of Carbondale entered a plea Thursday in federal court in East St. Louis. Rochman was charged with one count of violating the Sherman Anti–trust Act. Rochman acknowledged colluding with former Madison County Treasurer Fred Bathon in a multi–year scam that federal prosecutors say cheated more than 10–thousand Madison County property owners out of more than two–million dollars in excessive interest payments. Two other tax buyers from the metro–east area also pleaded guilty to the same charge. The tax sales in question took place between 2005 and 2008.
In February Bathon pleaded guilty to one count of bid–rigging. He left office in 2009 and faces up to 10–years in federal prison. Authorities say Bathon's bid–rigging scheme steered interest rates on more than 25–hundred tax sale properties to the highest interest rate allowed under Illinois law – circumventing the competitive bidding process. According to plea agreements those bids were also awarded to his campaign contributors. While Bathon served as Madison Treasurer, Rochman and a group of other tax buyers collectively contributed more than 140–thousand dollars to Bathon's re–election campaigns.
The U–S Attorney's office says Rochman and two other co–defendants face up to 16–months in prison. A Sentencing hearing is set for February 21st.