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POTTER COUNTY v. HEINRICH. (06/28/62)

June 28, 1962

POTTER COUNTY, APPELLANT,
v.
HEINRICH.



Appeal, No. 227, Jan. T., 1962, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Potter County, May T., 1961, No. 57, in case of County of Potter v. Harvey A. Heinrich and Robert J. Heinrich. Judgment affirmed; reargument refused August 29, 1962.

COUNSEL

Martin J. Hindes, for appellant.

Paul D. Larimer, with him Robert F. Cox, and Owlett, Cox, Wilcox & Owlett, for appellee.

Before Bell, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen and O'brien, JJ.

Author: Musmanno

[ 408 Pa. Page 322]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

On June 27, 1930 a 126-acre tract of land in Stewardson Township, Potter County, assessed in the name of Jessie Francis Estate, was put up for tax sale for 1926 taxes. An A. F. Jones successfully bid on the property but later withdrew his bid and the county treasurer set the land for sale on July 28, 1930. On the latter date Margaret (Maggie) Francis, who had a one-twelfth interest in the property, bid the costs and taxes and the property was deeded to her. She sold the property on August 21, 1946 to Hurley Morgan who, in turn, conveyed the property on January 22, 1955 to Harvey A. Heinrich and Robert J. Heinrich, the defendants in this action.

On April 7, 1961 the County of Potter instituted an action of ejectment to recover possession of the land, claiming that a fraud had been perpetrated upon it in the following respect: "The plaintiff alleges that the said Maggie Francis and A. F. Jones deliberately colluded to defraud the County of Potter, by a scheme in which the said A. F. Jones was to make a false bid at the sale of June 27th and then withdraw it, for the purpose of giving the said county treasurer an excuse to attempt to set another date for a supposed sale; rather than giving a deed for it to the County of Potter, as he should have done." The plaintiff further averred that this "scheme" was "apparently participated in or at least winked at by the county treasurer".

The defendants filed preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer which were sustained by the court below. The plaintiff appealed.

It is the contention of the plaintiff that when A. F. Jones made what it called a "false bid" the county treasurer should have treated the sale as a no-bid sale and have claimed the property for the county. Thus it reasoned that Margaret Francis held title to the property only as a trustee for the county and therefore

[ 408 Pa. Page 323]

    could pass no title to succeeding purchasers. The county's position cannot be sustained.

It must be stated at once that, as declared by this Court in Hess v. Westerwick, 366 Pa. 90, 98, "The purpose of tax sales is not to strip the taxpayer of his ...


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