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June 1, 2020

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Buyer of Darby property asks judge to force out Amboy man

Ant-goverment activist refuses to vacate premises

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An Oregon man who bought the home of anti-government activist David Darby at a tax lien auction in October is asking a judge to force Darby to vacate the property in Amboy.

Hanif Chohan of Beaverton, Ore., purchased the 4.7-acre property Oct. 2 for more than $52,000. Since then, Darby has refused to leave the premises at 15717 N.E. Grantham Road, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday in Clark County Superior Court.

“I have nothing against this fellow,” Chohan said in a phone interview with The Columbian. “I just want my property.”

The sale of Darby’s home paid off his approximate $25,000 property tax debt and generated proceeds of $27,000 for Darby, according to the Clark County Treasurer’s Office. The property’s assessed taxable value is nearly $157,000, according to county property records.

Darby refused to pay taxes on the grounds that his status as a “sovereign citizen” with a land patent made him exempt. Darby and other followers of the sovereign citizen movement say they answer only to a specific interpretation of common law and do not recognize most forms of taxation. Darby disputes the state’s authority to allow local jurisdictions to collect property taxes.

Last year, Darby filed a lawsuit claiming that the county erred when it placed his property into tax foreclosure.

An August court ruling allowed the county to sell the property at auction. The auction followed a yearslong fight to collect the unpaid taxes.

Chohan was the highest bidder in a third online auction for the property. High bidders for the two previous auctions declined to close deals with the county.

The property of another self-proclaimed “sovereign citizen” — Lowell D. Miller of Vancouver — is scheduled to go to auction in February, said county Treasurer Doug Lasher. Miller owes more than $14,000 in back property taxes on his three-bedroom, ranch-style residence at 5502 N.E. 40th St. in Vancouver, Lasher said. Miller’s property is assessed at nearly $200,000, county property records say.

Sovereign citizens, as a group, generally believe that federal, state and local governments operate illegally and therefore they are not obligated to pay taxes to those agencies, according to the FBI’s website.

Some don’t recognize the authority of law enforcement and courts, and several incidences of violence against law enforcement since 2000 have prompted the FBI to monitor the group.

However, Darby has said his tactics are aimed at education and persuasion, not violence. He has said he would take his fight all the way to the Supreme Court, if allowed.

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