Victoria Fernandez-Beleta says despite the fact that some media outlets have portrayed her family as “squatters,” they truly believed they had the right to move into a house on Mabre Court in northwest Littleton last November.
Daniel Chun, a criminal investigator with the district attorney’s office, believes her. He thinks they’ve been victimized by Alfonso Carillo’s fraudulent real-estate dealings, but added that they will still have to move out of the house they’ve been living in for the last nine months.
“You’re going to lose your money, and you’re going to lose the house eventually,” he told them as he conducted a video tour of the house July 23 to document its condition for the legal owners, Troy and Dayna Donovan.
The Littleton Independent has been unable to locate the Donovans, but they told other media outlets earlier this month they had temporarily relocated to Indiana for work when a neighbor informed them somebody had been living in their house.
Indeed, Fernandez-Beleta and her husband, Jose Rafael Leyva-Caraveo, moved into the home with their four children and two dogs. She says they gave Carillo $5,000 when they moved in – not for rent or a down payment, but to pay him to help them with paperwork to take possession of the house.
“She believed him instantly, because everybody else closes the door on you,” said Fernandez-Belata’s daughter Caren, interpreting for her mom. “So when he came saying he was going to help us, of course we believed him.”
Fernandez-Beleta filed an affidavit of adverse possession with the Arapahoe County Clerk’s Office on Nov. 3, 2011. If valid, the document would have allowed the family to take the house for free if they could prove it was abandoned. In Colorado, the property must be vacant for at least 18 years; the Donovans were only gone for six months.
Fernandez-Beleta also filed a limited power of attorney, giving Carillo the right to, among other things, sell the house.
Asked in a telephone interview what he intended to do with that document, Carillo replied, “Whatever she wants me to.”
Carillo, who Chun said has been arrested twice before on similar charges, said he doesn’t sell houses; in fact, his real-estate license has been revoked.
“Everything the DA says is lies,” said Carillo. “I can prove them wrong. They are protecting the banks, the real criminals. When the time is right, the truth will come out.”
He also said the investigation is racist; but Littleton Police Officer Arlen Kluth has a different perspective.
“He’s preying on Hispanics that don’t have a lot of documentation,” he said, telling the family he’s sorry they were taken advantage of.
An Arapahoe County judge gave the family two days to get out of the house on July 12, but they remain.
“We were going to leave on Thursday, but then the reporters came yelling, so we went back inside and decided to stay,” said Caren. She says her family is afraid and unsure of what to do, and they can’t afford to move. Fernandez-Beleta cleans houses, and her husband works for a landscaping company.
Caren said her mom doesn’t know what to think about Carillo, because he tells her one thing while others are telling her something different.
“If it turns out Alfonso did defraud us, then she’ll cooperate with the investigation so they can stop him from doing it to anyone else,” said Caren, again translating for mom. “But if it turns out it’s not really the Donovans’, we’re going to fight to keep the house.”
Fernandez-Beleta is taking a wait-and-see approach.
“God knows what he’s doing,” she said.