MESA, Ariz. - The disabled Mesa veteran whose home was sold out from under him last month would be allowed to stay in the home, under a plan brokered by Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery’s office.
But there are still unanswered questions about how the plan would keep Jim Boerner in his home long term and, more urgently, how an eviction by the new owner could be blocked.
We’ve also learned the home’s new owner was expecting a $25,000 check from the Maricopa County treasurer to buy the home back.
Montgomery says the home sale can't be undone, but his office and other county officials will help Boerner try to get his home back.
In a statement Friday, the county attorney said:
“This morning, representatives of the County Attorney’s Office, Treasurer’s Office, and Sheriff’s Office met to review next steps in resolving issues related to the sale of Mr. Boerner’s primary residence.
“The County Attorney advised all at the meeting that Arizona statutes do not authorize any County official to invalidate the sale that has already occurred.
“Nonetheless, County officials are committed to working with counsel for Mr. Boerner to assist him in keeping his home.”
“Should have happened 6 weeks ago"
I was with Boerner at his Mesa home Friday when I received an email from Montgomery’s office outlining the plan.
“I’m not more confident that there's a deal, I’m just more confident that they're trying,” Boerner said after reading Montgomery’s statement.
“It’s hard not to appreciate it because people are trying. But this should have happened six weeks ago.”
Boerner's story went viral after reports that his home was auctioned off without his knowledge, in an apparent mixup over an unpaid tax bill.
The Maricopa County treasurer said Boerner paid his 2017 property taxes on June 13 and had until June 30 to pay the 2018 balance of $236. But the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, which conducts the auctions, said the home was scheduled for auction for unpaid taxes June 20, 10 days before the tax deadline.
Boerner’s story also highlights the stark differences in how Arizona law treats mobile homes like Boerner’s and single-family homes.
Owners of single-family homes have two years to pay delinquent taxes before the home can be put up for auction. Mobile homes can be auctioned as soon as the day after a deadline for paying taxes.
Boerner could be evicted at any time by the new owner of his mobile home.
“I can’t go anywhere,” he said. “I won’t go anywhere.”
How will Montgomery help?
Montgomery’s plan leaves many unanswered questions about how he will block an eviction and keep Boerner in the home for the long term.
The county attorney indicates he and others will provide legal and other support to the lawyer who’s been providing free help to Boerner.
The lawyer called while I was with Boerner Friday afternoon. He knew nothing about the Montgomery plan but said he had a voice mail message from someone in the county attorney’s office.
Montgomery spokeswoman Amanda Steele told 12 News that she couldn’t provide more information on the next steps.
Deputy County Treasurer Ron Bellus said he expected there would be an emergency filing to stay the eviction.
What home’s new owner is saying
A man named Lester Payne bought Boerner's mobile home at auction for $4,400. He has said he represents a family business named Advanced Dynamic Energy Ltd., based in Mohave County.
According to the Arizona Republic, Payne has demanded $26,000, $30,000 and $52,000 from Boerner, based on text messages to Boerner.
When I reached him Friday, Payne said he couldn’t say whether Boerner would be evicted, claiming that decision was up to the business that owns the home.
But earlier in the day and again a few hours later, Payne told me he believed he had struck a deal to sell the home to County Treasurer Royce Flora.
“They made an arrangement to settle all this,” Payne said. “At 9:29 this morning, as far as I know, the treasurer's office was going to buy the home.”
Was there a deal to sell home?
Bellus confirmed to 12 News that Flora was going to pay $25,000 out of his own pocket to buy back the home.
But when Montgomery stepped in later in the morning, the deal was off, according to Bellus.
Bellus said Flora could afford to make the payment because he made some family money and had made good investments.