Watch CBS News

Group Uses Unorthodox Methods To Fight Foreclosure

By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4) - A Colorado Bureau of Investigation report on a deadly eviction incident is due out soon. A Park County shootout in February revealed a sometimes bitter war between some mortgage holders and banks. The homeowner who died was a member of a little-known group of foreclosure resistors.

What was supposed to be a simple eviction turned into a tragedy -- Park County Sheriff's Cpl. Nate Carrigan killed in a shootout along with the man who lived there, Martin Wirth.

"I did not pay mortgage to a bunch of crooks," Wirth said in a YouTube video posted before his death. The incident put a spotlight on the often bitter battle between homeowners and banks.

Cpl. Nate Carrigan and Martin Wirth
Cpl. Nate Carrigan and Martin Wirth (credit: CBS)

The day after the shootings Sheriff Fred Wegener of Park County addressed a news conference discussing the eviction noting, "In my community we have individuals upset about the system."

CBS4 wanted to meet others Wegener may have been referring to so CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger traveled beyond where the pavement ends in Park County ... near the corner of Hangman's Road and Vigilante Avenue. There Sallinger met a man who knew Wirth.

Fred Wegener
Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener in 2016 (credit: CBS)

Dennis Obduskey has been fighting to keep his home since missing some mortgage payments during the economic crisis eight years ago. Obduskey, who just happens to be the county Democratic party chairman, has not made a mortgage payment in more than four years.

"They would not accept any payments after six months into this without paying everything in full," he said.

Obduskey insists the bank doesn't really own his house, but was just servicing his mortgage. He has been fighting back with a lawsuit.

(credit: CBS)

Both Obudskey and Wirth were aided by a group that uses unorthodox techniques to hang onto their homes. It's called the Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition. At a demonstration protesting Wirth's death protesters chanted "Martin and the sheriffs had a shootout ... banks and public trustees pulled the trigger."

Sallinger caught up with members and supporters at a rally for their onetime member who died in his cause.

(credit: CBS)

"We are frustrated by fact that Colorado has one of the lowest bars for taking someone's home in a quasi-judicial process of any state," said Darren O'Connor, one of the leaders of the coalition.

O'Connor says their goal is to keep people in their homes through sharing resources and direct actions. He says often it's not the fault of homeowners, but banks when they misapply payments, or when someone misses a payment and the bank refuses to take a payment, and that leads to foreclosure.

(credit: CBS)

Mikel Whitney of the coalition said "resistance" is "when an eviction is taking place, where a person has gone through this fraudulent scenario. We want the people to be educated, not just about a person not paying their mortgage, it's sometimes the fault of the banking industry."

One of the "direct actions" took place the same day as the protest -- disruption of a foreclosure auction. Despite their efforts the auction went on. On another occasion the group tried to prevent deputies and a SWAT team from evicting a grandmother in Idaho Springs.

(credit: CBS)

It is something Obduskey hopes he will not face.

"(I) intend to stay here as long as it's considered to be my house, and I believe ultimately that I'm going to win this thing," he said.

He added that he's counting on the law, not guns to win his battle.

LINK: Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition On Facebook

CBS4's Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.