by BRAD ROLLINS
At least a half-dozen armed federal officers stood guard this morning at a tax foreclosure auction on the San Marcos courthouse square of property belonging to a member of the Republic of Texas separatist group.
The Internal Revenue Service seized a golf course frontage house in the Woodcreek subdivision and an office/apartment triplex on Ranch Road 12 in Wimberley owned, according to the Hays Central Appraisal District, by an entity called WPA Holdings.
Sources said the man behind WPA Holdings has ties to the Republic of Texas separatist group, which does not recognize the U.S. Treasury Department’s legal authority to collect personal income tax. Law enforcement sources said the property owner, a Wimberley dentist who lived in Woodcreek, refused to pay federal taxes over the course of several years until his land was ordered auctioned by a federal judge. The Republic of Texas considers the U.S. government an occupying authority and Texas a sovereign nation state.
The properties were sold without incident under a pecan tree on the grounds of the old Hays County Courthouse in San Marcos this morning. They fetched a total of about $315,000.
Liquidation specialist Mary Beth Justice, who conducted the auction, declined to discuss if threats were made against the auction or what otherwise prompted the level of security. Two of the plainclothes officers told the Mercury they work for the Treasury department and sources said the detail included FBI agents.
“We just want to be safe,” Justice said.
A total of three people registered to bid for the properties, including former Hays County Judge Elizabeth Sumter, who made the winning bid of $110,000 for the house. Another former county judge, Jim Powers, was also seen at the auction this morning but left before bidding began.
“If I had known Liz was going to be there, I would have stayed and bid on them,” Powers quipped later in a phone conversation. Powers, a Dripping Springs businessman, lost the 2006 general election to Sumter.
Sumter also bid on the commercial property before but got outbid. Before the auction began, she asked Justice what would happen if someone bought the house and it was burned out before the new owner took possession. Justice said the new owner assumed any risks and should check into buying insurance.