Doesn’t it seem weird to you that people are talking about subpoenas and investigations, and naming us (and the land trust) in newspaper articles – and yet no one had ever called us? We had never received any communication from the state, but we were presumably being investigated?
Or are they talking about us? On December 8, 2007, just three days after learning that our attorney could not sell the tax credits, this article appeared in the Pueblo Chieftain: Easements probe includes cases for Huerfano County. “At least 15 conservation easements involving more than 500 acres in Huerfano County are included in a statewide probe into possible misuse of the state's easement program.”
Hmmm, we had done 15 easements involving about 500 acres in Huerfano County, so it sure sounded like us. But the article mysteriously says, “The state's Division of Real Estate has issued 30 subpoenas to property owners and land trusts around the state - primarily in the Denver-Fort Collins area - but none have been served to anyone in Southern Colorado.” So, who are they talking about?
Then the newspaper article goes on to name me personally: “One of the tracts is owned by Sharon Cairns Mann, and seven others are owned by limited liability companies with such names as Tract 19 LLC. All of those list their legal address as Savant Publishing Inc., 300 County Road 330, in Walsenburg, of which Mann is president. Additionally, Stanley K. Mann is listed as the attorney-in-fact on three other easements. Neither Mann could be reached for comment.” It would be hard to comment, since we were never contacted – we didn’t even know about this article until much later.
In addition, the same article names the land trust (Noah Land Trust) to which we donated the land. “Paul Greer, president of the trust that holds the Huerfano easements, said his non-profit trust, which began as a mentoring program for juveniles, has been caught in the middle of an investigation he knows little about….Greer said not only does his trust have nothing to do with hiring appraisers, but it doesn't receive any tax credits, both of which are the focus of the state probe.” (By the way, his name is Paul Geer, not Greer – see what I mean about endless factual errors!?)
Weird Reporting – or Just Lazy?
Doesn’t it seem weird to you that people are talking about subpoenas and investigations, and naming us (and the land trust) in newspaper articles – and yet no one had ever called us? We had never received any communication from the state, but we were presumably being investigated? There is an implication that we had been the subject of a probe. Let me make it clear right now: at that time, we had never been contacted or investigated by the state, and we were never subpoenaed -- although the plot of this story thickens and everything gets much more complicated!
So, we entered 2008 with the simple decision to take our attorney’s advice and wait it out. We were confident that if there were abusers of the C.E. program (somehow we doubted it), it would get sorted out. © Sharon Cairns Mann