Every Arizona county and hundreds of thousands of trusting land purchasers were victimized by the rampant land scams of the 1960's. Artist renditions showed trees and lakes with boating and all the modern facilities: streets, street lights, golf courses, a real piece of the American dream. The true picture was a section of dry Arizona deserts with no development whatsoever. Although Arizona has the reputation of being the worst in the nation, Florida was not far behind and many states had similar swindles take place during the same time period.

Marsha Bonham's first major goal when taking office in 1981 was to get the office organized and balanced to the penny. The second major goal was to eliminate the thousands of delinquent properties with 20 plus years of tax each from the back tax rolls and the dollars from the receivables.

Land fraud, bankruptcy, murder, suicide, incarceration and greed surround the history of Cochise College Park subdivision. Located in Cochise County, consisting of 2 phases of 12 units totaling 8,647 lots, it was the worst fraud in the state and possibly the Nation. The scenic lake at Cochise College Park was filled several times but never would hold water. Lots were sold throughout the Midwest, Florida, Canada, across the United States and around the world. Some lots were sold twice. Some mortgages were sold twice. Many documents remain unrecorded today. Some owners never received their deed. Some received deeds but never received satisfaction of their mortgage. Some paid mortgages in full and received satisfaction of the mortgage only to learn the mortgage was sold and the second sale never recorded. The original mortgage is still on record at the County Recorder's office. Payments were made on an unrecorded mortgage. This story was repeated in various degrees across the State creating tangled subdivisions with many unbuildable lots.

In 1985, with the help of newly-elected County attorney, Alan Polley, Marsha had Cochise College Park released from bankruptcy and the enormous task of issuing deeds to the State of Arizona on these lots began. Units 12 and 8 were abandoned back to acreage and sold at a land auction.

On August, 1990, Marsha was appointed by the court as Receiver of Universal Properties, Inc. to resolve problems with the Twin Lakes subdivision near Willcox.

Cochise County had 17 problem subdivisions and slowly one by one the Treasurer is issuing deeds on all of them.

Arizona now has strict laws and regulations, some of the toughest and most rigidly enforced in the Nation, to prevent this type of fraud from taking place again. Arizona County Treasurers keep a watchful eye on the legislature in the hope these tough laws stay in place.

The delinquent taxes are paid or cancelled and the Treasurer has resolved as many problems as possible; however the scars and unsolved problems of the Land Scam Era will be with Cochise County forever.

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"Did they say lakes & boating?”

“What street is this?”

 

 

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