MESA, Ariz. - Inside a light yellow mobile home in Mesa is Jim Boerner’s entire life. The 49-year-old who suffered brain and spinal injuries during his training with the Air Force was hoping to enjoy his retirement in this home.
But instead, he may be forced out on the street—all over a couple of hundred dollars in back taxes.
“Because of an error made on the state level, they seized the house and they auctioned it, and I’m terrified!” he said.
Boerner received a notice of past-due property taxes from the Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office. He owed $641 due June 30. Boerner paid $405 on June 13.
But just days later, on June 20, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office sold his house in auction.
“The fact is, we have a veteran, a disabled veteran, who got injured serving his country, and he comes home, and that same government of that country froze him out of his house over $220? That’s really egregious,” said Ron Bellus, deputy county treasurer.
MCSO held a press conference to say they did everything according to law.
"We recognize that these circumstances affect real people. They can be as emotional as they are disturbing and unfortunate, but in this office, we have to still carry out our responsibilities,” said Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone.
MCSO said a deputy personally served Boerner with a notice that his home was going to auction on June 20, but in a phone call, he was told he was safe until June 30.
The sheriff’s office said it wasn’t aware Boerner made any payments to the account.
“Had we been aware, if the credit card payment just appeared as pending, we would have pulled Mr. Boerner’s lot from sale,” said MCSO Capt. Hank Brandimarte.
But the treasurer’s office said it should have been even more simple.
“Jim had this. This was sent by our office,” Bellus said, holding the document with the June 30 deadline. “This trumps anything else the sheriff wants to claim because this says June 30. It was sold on the 20th.”
Meanwhile, Boerner is left with an uncertain future, knowing he can be evicted at any time.
“I’m terrified,” he said.