This is one of those unfortunate stories where it’s hard to sort out the right and wrong.
What started out in 2004 as a $27,000 bill for weed abatement has ballooned â€” with penalties and other charges â€” to $69,322, far beyond the financial means of Diliberti, a former Marine who lives on a disability pension from his war injuries. Diliberti refused to pay a bill from a contractor hired by the local fire district to remove combustible vegetation in the fire-prone region. He was fishing in Baja California when the weed-choppers arrived. He says the plants were native chaparral and thus not a fire hazard. He won the backing of the Escondido-based California Chaparral Institute.