By Ted Siefer
CONCORD, N.H. (Reuters) - Federal officials on Thursday will attempt to auction off 103 wooded acres in New Hampshire that were the site of a nine-month standoff between an anti-government couple and federal agents, despite worries the property could be booby-trapped.
It is the second time the U.S. Marshals Service has tried to sell the property that includes the fortified compound where Ed and Elaine Brown lived before agents in 2007 ended the standoff by sneaking onto the property posing as pizza delivery men.
An auction last August failed to yield any bids, probably because of concerns that portions of the property were booby-trapped. At the time, prospective buyers weren’t allowed to inspect the property out of safety concerns.
This time, would-be buyers have been able to visit the site in advance with an Internal Revenue Service official, Deputy Chief U.S. Marshal Brenda Mikelson said on Wednesday.
"From what he’s seen, he’s very confident that the properties will go," she said, referring to the I.R.S. agent.
The property is located in Plainfleld in the rural western part of the state. Officials will also auction off Elaine Brown’s dental office in the nearby city of Lebanon. The proceeds from any sale are to go toward back taxes owed by the Browns totaling nearly $500,000, according to the government.
The Browns rejected the federal government's authority to tax its citizens. The 2007 standoff began when federal agents tried to apprehend the Browns on tax evasion charges.
During the course of the nine-month standoff, the property drew numerous anti-government activists, among them Randy Weaver, the man at the center of the bloody standoff in Ruby Ridge, Idaho in 1992 that left his wife and son dead as well as a federal marshal.
The Browns are serving at least 30 years in prison on charges of plotting to kill federal agents.
(Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Tom Heneghan)