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Judge denies petition to reverse sale of home over $6 fee

By Kirstin Kennedy, Beaver County Times, Pa.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

April 24--BEAVER -- A Center Township woman's petition with the Tax Claim Bureau of Beaver County to reverse the sale of her home based on a six-day late payment on school taxes and a $6.30 interest charge was denied by a Beaver County judge Tuesday.

According to court documents, Judge C. Gus Kwidis ruled that Eileen Battisti, of 118 Rosewood Drive, was aware of the tax sale of her home, and that the Beaver County Tax Claim Bureau "complied with the notice of requirements of the Real Estate Tax Law."

The petition was filed based on the following circumstances, according to a Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania opinion:

Battisti paid her 2008 Center Area School District taxes six days late. Though she paid the balance in full, she did not pay an additional $6.30 interest fee for the late payment by a May 1, 2009, deadline.

Battisti's attorney, Ed Santillan, said his client, a widow, never received notice of the interest fee for the late payment.

But Kwidis ruled "there is no doubt" Battisti was notified of the proposed sheriff's sale. He said she acknowledged receipt of a certified mail notice on July 7, 2011, and she was served a notice on Aug. 16, 2011, by a sheriff's deputy. The property was sold on Sept. 12, 2011.

Battisti's house had been paid off with life insurance money she received after her husband, Anthony Battisti, passed away in 2004, Santillan said. The couple bought the home in 1999.

Battisti paid her taxes in full in 2008 and 2009, according to the court's written opinion, but the $6.30 in unpaid interest from 2008 had grown to $255.84 at the time of the sale.

Officials also noted that she owed $1,347.21 to the county, $503.35 to Center Township and $2,527.83 to the school district for 2010 taxes at the time, according to court documents. It is unclear from county records whether Battisti eventually paid the 2010 taxes.

On Sept. 12, 2011, her house was sold at a tax sale to S.P. Lewis of the Imperial area for about $100,000. Santillan said he was not at the tax sale, but he believes a bidding war took place for the home. He also said Battisti was not given a chance to have a hearing to argue the tax sale was improper.

According to current property assessment, the home is still in the name of Anthony and Eileen Battisti, though the denial of the petition affirms Lewis' purchase.

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In a previous interview with The Times, Santillan, who has been practicing law for 23 years, said he has never seen a house sold at a tax sale for such a small amount of money. "This is something out of the ordinary," he said.

___

(c)2014 the Beaver County Times (Beaver, Pa.)

Visit the Beaver County Times (Beaver, Pa.) at www.timesonline.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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