WINTER PARK, Colo. (CBS4) – It is one of the more bizarre outcomes of our mortgage crisis — illegal occupation of homes.
CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger found people have moved into vacant homes under foreclosure in Aurora, Denver, and now the Winter Park area.READ MORE: USGS Reports 2.8 Magnitude Earthquake Near Aspen Saturday Night
There’s a common thread in illegal occupations. That thread appears to be a Denver area man who calls himself a real estate consultant. Investigators say he is telling Hispanics, including illegal immigrants, if they move into empty homes and make improvements they can claim the houses as their own under what’s called “adverse possession.”
A family that had been living in a house told a neighbor they were moving up to a pricier neighborhood.
“He said, ‘We are going to be buying a house in Rendezvous for just the taxes; a million and a half dollar home.’ And I said, ‘Really?’ ” neighbor Diane Collier said.
They moved into a 5,200 square foot, five bedroom, five bath home with a fireplace-heated bathroom, and spectacular views. Real estate agent Denise O’Connell was attempting to sell it.
“You can kind of see the layout where there was a television, a couch over here, a table in this area; obviously they moved in,” O’Connell said.
So law enforcement was contacted. They arrested German Jasso and his wife Laura Gutierrez on charges, including felony theft and trespassing. Grand County sheriff’s investigator Sgt. Leo Piechocki says the couple indicated they ad been helped by real estate consultant Alfonso Carrillo.READ MORE: 'It's A Team Job': Volunteers Prepare Colorado Lands For Possible Challenging Wild Fire Year
“It appears Mr. Carrillo is finding homes in foreclosure and moving people into the homes without any authority to do so,” Piechocki said.
Carrillo is also being investigated in the occupation of two other homes in the Winter Park area discovered by real estate agents.
“They’re very quiet, they are hiding behind the walls in that property,” O’Connell said.
Carrillo already has a case pending in Denver District Court where he faces multiple counts of theft and forgery. He is accused of filing phony deeds and taking thousands of dollars from people he puts in the houses.
CBS4 first learned about Carrillo from an Aurora man who found his home occupied. Larry Asbery had been in the hospital and when he got out he found people living in his house. The person claiming to own the house told CBS4 it was obtained with the help of Carrillo.
While Carrillo said he couldn’t speak to CBS4 because of the advice of his attorney, he served the Grand County Sheriff’s Department with legal papers, not yet filed, claiming that department is systematically targeting minorities with wrongful eviction.MORE NEWS: Raise The Future Needs The Colorado Community To Come Together Around Youth Living In Foster Care
Law enforcement authorities told CBS4 if people think they can quickly take over vacant homes through adverse possession, they are wrong. It typically takes 18 years to just apply for that.