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Court voids sale, allows disabled Mesa veteran to keep mobile home

(KTAR News Photo/Taylor Kinnerup)

PHOENIX – A disabled veteran will get to keep his Mesa mobile home after a state judge agreed this week it was improperly sold, a decision applauded by Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office sold James Boerner’s residence in the Brentwood Southern Mobile Home Park at auction in June because he was late on tax payments.

He was allowed to stay in the home after county and state officials reached an agreement not to evict him and to resolve the issue in court.

On Wednesday, a Superior Court of Arizona judge officially voided the home’s sale.

“I’m sure we’re as relieved as Mr. Boerner is,” Penzone told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday. “We don’t want to see anyone taken out of their home. The circumstances were unfortunate.”

Boerner, who served in the Air Force, owed taxes from 2017 and 2018 and was told they were due by June 30, MCSO said in July. He paid the 2017 taxes on June 13, but the payment did not post with the treasurer’s office until after sale was completed June 20, according to MCSO.

Penzone said his agency has since implemented policies to avoid similar situations in the future.

“We’ve already put in a considerable amount of work with the treasurer’s office to ensure that there are no deficiencies in the line of communication in that if there are questionable circumstances relative to seizures that lead to auctioning off properties that we have double checks, triple checks and additional eyes on those things to ensure that we’re thoughtful as much as we’re lawful,” he said.

Wednesday’s ruling was in the form of a stipulated judgment and didn’t involve any hearings.

“What that means is the judge really didn’t have to decide anything,” legal expert Monica Lindstrom told KTAR News’ Mac & Gaydos on Thursday.

“The parties figured out a way around this and they submitted the judgment to the judge and the judge basically rubber-stamped it, from what I can tell.”

Boerner was listed as the plaintiff on the case, and the defendants were Penzone and Maricopa County Treasurer Royce Flora.

The judgment said the April notice of sale did not comply with a state statute governing the sale of properties seized by sheriffs.

The statute details what information the notice of sale should include and where it needs to be posted.

The ruling did not clarify what terms of the statute weren’t met.

“I’m not sure, but I think it’s because they didn’t give the owner, Boerner, the actual required notice that he was entitle to get,” Lindstrom said.

“Because he didn’t get the right notice, then the subsequent sale ends up being voided.”

The statute says if a court finds the sheriff didn’t give proper notice, the property would be returned to the previous owner upon payment of “outstanding taxes, interest and costs associated with collecting the taxes.”

“We’re glad to see it come to a successful outcome to keep him in his home,” Penzone said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ashley Flood contributed to this report.

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