Escape routes and all, tax evaders’ compound sold at auction

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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Two New Hampshire properties at the center of an armed standoff with federal agents, including a compound that featured escape routes and once was believed to be booby-trapped, were sold at auction Thursday.

New Hampshire businessman James Hollander bought both properties belonging to convicted tax evaders Ed and Elaine Brown during a federal auction that attracted seven bidders and lasted only about 15 minutes. He paid $205,000 for the 100-acre compound and $415,000 for Elaine Brown’s dental office; minimum bids were $125,000 and $250,000, respectively.

The Browns became anti-government celebrities in 2007 when they held federal agents at bay for nine months after they were convicted of tax evasion.

The Browns are now in their 70s and serving prison sentences of more than 30 years. The 2007 standoff started when federal agents came to take them into custody.

During the ensuing showdown, the Browns welcomed anti-tax and anti-government supporters to the compound, including Randy Weaver, whose wife and son were killed along with a deputy U.S. marshal in a 1992 shootout in Ruby Ridge, Idaho.

The Browns were convicted in 2009 of amassing weapons, explosives and booby traps and plotting to kill federal agents who came to arrest them. Before an auction last year, federal agencies couldn’t ensure the entire parcel was free of booby traps. But the hilltop house and the grounds up to the tree line have been searched extensively and deemed free of improvised explosive devices.

The properties were seized and a federal judge ordered them auctioned to pay back property taxes owed to Plainfield and Lebanon.

Hollander is the owner and president of Hot Grips, which manufacturers heated handlebar grips for motorcycles, snowmobiles and off-road vehicles.

— Written by Lynne Tuohy

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