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Penzone says he can’t reverse decision that cost Arizona veteran’s home

(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said he can’t legally reverse a decision that cost a disabled Air Force veteran his home over a late tax bill.

Penzone told Mac & Gaydos on KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday that he does not want to act in violation of law by reversing a June 20 sale of the Mesa mobile home of 49-year-old James Boerner.

“I reached out to [Maricopa County Attorney Bill] Montgomery’s office for every legal opinion on every legal element on it and because of the circumstances, could the sale be reversed,” Penzone said. “And until he comes back with a legal opinion, I could be acting in violation of the law, which you do not want your sheriff to do.”

MCSO said Boerner paid part of his back taxes, but the payment didn’t post until after someone else bought the home.

“The key notation is that Mr. Boerner’s payment did not clear the treasurer’s system until after the sale funds had been accepted by the Treasurer’s Office earlier in the day,” an MCSO spokesman said at a press conference Wednesday.

Penzone said he doesn’t want Boerner to lose his home, but also doesn’t want cases like this, which he said his department deals with frequently, to become subjective in nature.

“We don’t want to see people out on the street, but we have to follow the process,” Penzone said.

Penzone said he hopes to meet with Boerner face-to-face once he can offer the 49-year-old a solution.

He added that he wants to improve communication between MCSO and the treasurer’s office and outfit deputies to cut down on potential issues like Boerner’s.

Penzone said MCSO seized and sold 72 mobile homes last year from delinquent taxes.

“[Seizures] aren’t something we enjoy doing, but they are something we are legally obligated to do,” Penzone said.

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