CONCORD, N.H. - Federal officials are once again preparing to sell the New Hampshire compound of a tax-evading couple convicted of amassing an arsenal of weapons and holding law enforcement officials at bay for nine months in 2007.
The auction of Ed and Elaine Brown's fortress-like home on 100 acres of land in Plainfield is set for Aug. 15 at U.S. District Court in Concord. The minimum required bid for the property is $250,000.
Prospective bidders will not be allowed to tour the property in advance of the auction. Deputy Chief U.S. Marshal Brenda Mikelson said Wednesday that marshals would be obligated to protect anybody who visited the property, but did not elaborate. Last year she had cited the possibility of land mines and other explosives buried on the property as another complication.
The Browns, who are in their 70s, are serving lengthy sentences. Elaine Brown was sentenced to 35 years and her husband is serving 37 years.
Elaine Brown wrote an open letter last month to Plainfield residents apologizing for the "fear, anxiety and impact we were causing" the residents and town officials. The letter was published in a monthly newsletter put out by residents.
Also being auctioned is Elaine Brown's dental office in West Lebanon in the heart of the retail hub of New Hampshire's Upper Valley region.
That commercial property had its own complications involving the disposal of patient records to protect their privacy, but it isn't considered potentially dangerous.
By federal court order, the properties must be sold as is. The office must sell for at least $507,500.
The court has ruled that the Browns and any heirs have no claims to the properties or any assets from their sale.
While the Browns kept federal marshals at bay after their convictions for tax evasion, they welcomed a parade of anti-tax and anti-government supporters including Randy Weaver, whose wife and son were killed along with a deputy U.S. marshal in a 1992 shootout on Weaver's property in Ruby Ridge, Idaho.
Mikelson cited those sympathizers last year as another reason not to open the property to bidders and gawkers.
"They had a lot of supporters," Mikelson. "We're trying to maintain safety for all."
The Browns were ultimately captured without incident by undercover agents posing as pizza deliverymen.
If the properties sell, the first entities to be paid would be the municipalities of Plainfield and Lebanon, which are owed significant amounts in back property taxes.