DENVER (CBS4) – A family that had been living inside a million dollar home with lavish furnishings has been evicted by the Douglas County Sheriff’s department following a court order.
Their action appears to be a part of a scheme involving the occupation of many homes under foreclosure in Colorado, uncovered by CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger.
In the most recent case, homeowner Joyce Carroll became ill and went into the hospital. Carroll’s home in the Bell Mountain Ranch subdivision near Castle Rock was put on the market for a short sale, then sold in foreclosure to a bank. When Carroll was released from the hospital she found strangers living in her house, who claim they have the right to move into empty homes under foreclosure. With a new family living in her house, Carroll still had tens of thousands of dollars worth of elegant furniture inside.
In March, CBS4 was at the home when Sergio Hernandez, the man who moved his family into Carroll’s home, was served with the eviction order. Deputies knocked on the door, but initially no one answered. But when a locksmith started to drill the lock, a woman appeared opening the door. A parade of movers then started hauling all the contents out of the house, straight to the curb.
Carroll’s friend Charles Johnson was there to make sure her furniture was safely recovered.
“I think it’s a shame when people come in and take over property that doesn’t belong to them.” Johnson said “It’s as simple as that.”
Hernandez went to the house to recover what he could. Pulling up in a late model Jaguar with Colorado plates, CBS4 spoke with Hernandez as he rushed up the driveway. “The bank doesn’t own it.” Hernandez said, “It has to prove it.”
Hernandez was arrested earlier on charges of trespassing, theft and filing false documents in connection with his occupation of the home. Getting him out of the house was another manner. One man, believed to be a family member, was not happy to see CBS4 there. Wearing a bandana to cover his face, the man cursed at our cameras and asked us not to show pictures of his school-aged children who appeared to be living in the home. None of the children were shown.
The eviction scene in Castle Rock may be about to play out near Larkspur as well. A person believed to be related to Hernandez, Gonzolo Perez, has also been arrested and charged in connection with occupying a home under foreclosure. Sallinger caught up with Perez in court and asked him why he feels he has the right to be in the house. Perez said, “Which part don’t you understand, homeboy? Get the (expletive) away from me!”
When CBS4 visited the Larkspur house a sign was posted on the door that reads “Please take notice that Mr. Gonzolo Perez did not break any laws. He’s not trespassing.”
These houses are among more than a dozen CBS4 News has found that have been apparently broken into and occupied while under foreclosure. They are all linked by a lawsuit in which people living in many of the homes asked a federal court to halt the evictions. That request was denied.
Sgt. Ron Hanavan with the Douglas County Sheriff’s department attended the eviction near Castle Rock. He warned, “If the occupant comes back they would be trespassing a lawful order given to leave. There would be charges for that as well.”
The housing crisis upended many lives. Including a life of luxury enjoyed by Joyce Carroll, who deputies say had $80,000 in fine furniture and other items inside the home. Items that ended up on the curb.