Ron Mugar never committed a crime, never harmed anyone, yet he’s found himself in the middle of a government-sponsored thievery ring designed to separate citizens from their money. Now, Mugar is currently facing an uphill battle against thieving bureaucrats in his city who are attempting to rob him through immoral and unconstitutional legislation.
Because the city of Norco, California assumes the right to tell people what they can and can’t have on their own property, Mugar was targeted by predatory bureaucrats over minor ‘code violations.’ According to the city, Mugar had too much stuff in his yard. The city claimed this stuff was an imminent danger to the community and so they went after him. In reality, however, no one was in danger, and when the city asked him to clean up his yard, Mugar did just that. But it was too late.
Mugar became a victim of what the Institute for Justice refers to an increasingly common practice in California called “health and safety receiverships.”
“Traditionally, receiverships allow a city to take temporary ownership of a property to fix an imminent danger to a community, like a structurally unsound building. The owner then would receive a bill for the work done. The bill is attached to the property in the form of a property lien. If the homeowner cannot pay the bill, the receiver can sell the property,” IJ reports.
The organization points out that these receiverships are now being used in a predatory manner to enforce even the most minor code violations. The city of Norco has hired law firms like Dapeer, Rosenblit & Litvak LLP, who go after people like Mugar in an attempt to steal their property to rake in millions.
When the city takes temporary ownership of property and then charges the homeowner for work they didn’t consent to having done, many times, the homeowner is unable to pay for it. At this point, the city takes full ownership of the property and flips the house, making huge profits in the process.
Just to defend himself from these thieves, Mugar was forced to use all of his life savings to pay for an attorney to fight the city and to clean up his property. Luckily, this successfully won him his home back after the city stole it. However, last November, likely angry at the fact that they’d been beaten, the city sued Mugar for attorneys’ fees to pay the law firm that helped them try to steal his home.
As IJ notes, “State statutes and local ordinances allow municipalities to seek fees for the cost of prosecuting nuisance violations. The city explained its request for over $60,000 by alleging that Ron had engaged in “obstructive tactics”: that is, he tried to defend himself in court. Ron asked the court to reconsider the receivership because it wasn’t necessary. And he disputed some of the city’s allegations. For defending his property rights, Ron now owes tens of thousands of dollars.”
One would think that government organizations — who claim to be in place to protect citizens from the likes of thievery and extortion — would not be so overt when committing these acts of thievery and extortion. Sadly, however, as Mugar’s case illustrates, this is not the case.
For defending himself from thieves who stole his home, Mugar is now being forced to pay those very thieves. A travesty of justice indeed.
The good news is, according to IJ, is that “while Norco’s predatory practices are immoral and wrong, they are also something else: unconstitutional, under both the U.S. and California Constitutions. That’s why Ron has teamed up with the Institute for Justice to fight for his property rights and his First Amendment rights, and to fight against financially motivated prosecutors. Prosecutors should not profit from going after property owners in court—especially property owners who successfully defend themselves.”