Ten days before Christmas 2014 at around 9 a.m., the U.S. Marshals Service kicked in the door of an apartment intent on evicting the people living there because the buildings’ owner, Kent Carter owed the government more than $800,000. However, federal agents didn’t count on Eddy County, New Mexico Sheriff Scott London.
Called to intervene and upon arrival, Sheriff London stood between 20-year-old Wilson Baughman, a wife and mother to a one-year old child, and the Marshals Service despite being threatened with arrest. The sheriff reminded the feds that the case was still under appeal and that Carter and Baughman deserved due process.
On February 19 the IRS auctioned off three of the owner’s homes in Carlsbad despite the fact that the appeal had yet to be heard. Court documents showed that Carter had appealed the case but hadn’t had his day in court.
One of the houses was Carter’s personal home, while the two others were rental properties. Carter and his tenants were forced to move out in December in the midst of the legal battle.
London said the IRS violated Carter’s right to due process by selling off his property, even though Carter had a pending appeal. So before the auction took place, the sheriff sent a letter to the IRS notifying the agency that he wouldn’t allow the sale to move forward without proper due process.
“Thus I am notifying you that under the compulsion to my oath to the Constitution of the United States of America and the Constitution of the State of New Mexico, I shall not allow the sale of these three properties on 19 February, 2015,” his letter reads in part.
After the story got out, London received letters of support from as far away as France, with many people offering to come to Carlsbad and help Carter defend his property. London said he feared a repeat of scenes like the one we saw last year in Nevada, when armed protestors clashed with the feds trying to seize Cliven Bundy’s cattle.
So he and Carter decided to back down and give in to the IRS. But while it’s too late for Carter to get his property back, London is now seeking a congressional review of the DOJ, the IRS, and all the judges involved in the case.