Struggling alpaca farmer fights government-sanctioned home equity theft
January 10, 2023
Bolton, Mass.; January 11, 2023: Yesterday, Alan DiPietro, an alpaca farmer in Bolton, Massachusetts, filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state law that allows local governments to take all the value of a home as payment for much smaller property tax debts.
In 2014, Alan bought 34 acres of land that spanned Bolton and the adjacent Town of Stow. He mowed some existing fields and installed natural wooden fencing and other small structures necessary to run an alpaca farm. But environmental litigation and continued permitting difficulties with the towns, combined with other financial hardships, caused him to fall behind on property taxes. Alan’s $6,116 tax debt began accruing 16% annual interest and administrative fees. He tried to sell some of his lots to pay the debt, but the town refused the necessary permits to make the land sellable.
In 2021, Bolton foreclosed on his property, worth at least $370,000. Alan owed approximately $60,000 at the time of foreclosure so the Town took a windfall for itself and robbed Alan of roughly $310,000 of equity.
“A home’s equity is just as much property as a home itself and cannot be taken by the government without just compensation,” said Joshua Polk, attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “We hope that in Massachusetts, home equity theft will soon be a thing of the past.”
Represented at no charge by Pacific Legal Foundation, with assistance from attorneys at PioneerLegal, LLC., Alan is suing to end the unconstitutional practice of home equity theft in Massachusetts. The case is DiPietro v. Town of Bolton, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
PLF currently has two cert petitions for similar cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court: Fair v. Continental Resources, originating in Nebraska, and Tyler v. Hennepin County originating in Minnesota.
No files available.
Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 17 wins of 19 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.