No one wanted this booby-trapped house for some reason

CONCORD, N.H. — An auction ended Friday with no bids for the New Hampshire compound of a tax-evading couple convicted of amassing an arsenal of weapons and holding federal law enforcement officials at bay for months.

The auction of Ed and Elaine Brown’s fortress-like home on 100 acres in Plainfield was held at U.S. District Court in Concord. The minimum required bid was $250,000. Elaine Brown’s dental office in Lebanon also was being auctioned but got no bids.

Prospective bidders were not allowed to tour the property, and last year, the U.S. Marshals Service cited the possibility of land mines and other explosives buried on the property as a complication. Marshals said Friday they can hold a second auction in the future.

The court has ruled that the Browns and any heirs have no claims to the properties or any assets from their sale. If the properties ever sell, the first entities to be paid would be the municipalities of Plainfield and Lebanon, which are owed back property taxes.

The Browns, who do not recognize the federal government’s authority to tax its citizens, had a nine-month standoff with authorities in 2007 after they were sentenced to five years in prison for tax evasion. U.S. marshals posing as supporters finally arrested them peacefully.

While the Browns kept federal marshals at bay, 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.

They were convicted in 2009 of amassing weapons, explosives and booby traps and plotting to kill federal agents who came to arrest them. Ed and Elaine Brown, both in their 70s, are serving 37 and 35 years in prison.

As of a year ago, federal agencies with explosive detection equipment and dogs still couldn’t ensure the land was free of booby traps. But the hilltop house and the grounds up to the tree line have been searched extensively and have deemed free of improvised explosive devices and other booby traps.

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