Grand Junction, Colorado - Mesa County Public Trustee, Michael D. Moran, has egregiously violated the trust of the citizens of Mesa County, Colorado as well as United States taxpayers by erroneously releasing a $120,000 check to the former owner of a foreclosed property without receiving proper authorization to do so and while the IRS redemption period remains in effect.
Mr. Moran’s flagrant disregard for his obligation to the citizens of Mesa County and a dereliction of duty concerning the Internal Revenue Service surfaced while this student journalist, as part of thesis research, gathered information during an investigation into potential corruption and incompetence of appointed public officials within the hierarchy of county government.
The foreclosed property referenced above has an assigned Public Trustee Sale Number of 2015-0312 and sold at public auction on the morning of February 10, 2016 for the amount of $169,000. The foreclosing lender’s minimum bid of $47,050.35 resulted in an overbid amount of $121,949.65 according to the Public Trustee’s website.
Both a local title company officer and experienced real estate attorney confirmed that any overbid amount generated by the Public Trustee auction is rightfully due to lien holders who were in a junior position to the foreclosing senior lienor, as long as those lienors in jeopardy of having their lien positions extinguished filed a standard Notice of Intent to Redeem form within the determined time period per state and federal statutes.
And in instances where a Federal lien is in the chain of title prior to the Notice of Election and Demand being filed in order to commence the foreclosure action, case law mandates that Federal statutes supersede Colorado state foreclosure statutes.
With the promise of anonymity, two local investors who frequent the Mesa County Public Trustee sales stated that Mr. Moran made an announcement prior to initiating the Feb10 public auction, forewarning those present that there existed multiple IRS liens on the property designated as 2015-0312 and that certain statutory redemption periods applied that would potentially affect the waiting period for the winning bidder to be able to receive clear title to the subject property.
However, upon expiration of the Colorado state redemption period, a county employee stated that Mr. Moran immediately provided funds to the former (foreclosed) property owner who is said to have driven from Salt Lake City and was waiting for the office of the Public Trustee to open for business the morning of March 10th in order to receive said overbid amount totaling nearly $120,000.
The challenge is that, while Mr. Moran clearly announced prior to the public auction that IRS liens existed on the subject property, he neglected to communicate with the local Internal Revenue Office to inform them of the resulting overbid proceeds.
It is also worth noting that the Wayne N. Aspinall Federal building which houses local IRS offices is located at 400 Rood Avenue, less than one block (a mere 528 ft) from the Public Trustee’s office housed at 544 Rood Avenue.
Unfortunately, Mr. Moran was all too eager to reward the foreclosed homeowner with a $120,000 payment and couldn’t be bothered with informing the IRS of the substantial overbid that was due to the federal government.
Additionally, Mr. Moran opted to ignore the Federal redemption period of 120 days following the Public Trustee Sale of foreclosed property in his haste to disperse funds rightfully belonging to the IRS (U.S. taxpayers).
The last day of the Federal redemption period is June 9, 2016.
Why so fast to hand over such a large sum of money to a recently foreclosed homeowner when the IRS (U.S. taxpayer) is in line to redeem the property or claim their portion of the generated overbid amount?
That Federal redemption period of 120 days remains in effect as of the date of this press release, further bringing into question the competency and integrity of the current Mesa County Public Trustee who is sworn into office with a fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of Mesa County as well as the state of Colorado and the federal taxpayer in the instance of monies due to the IRS.
Multiple attempts to contact a Grand Junction agent representing the IRS have lead only to a voicemail recording.
When calling the Mesa County Public Trustee’s office to request a statement, Mr. Moran chortled and stated that a fledgling journalist had no official business with his office and he therefore had no obligation to divulge any details relating to the case.
Mr. Moran concluded the brief call by stating that he had looked into the matter and the law was followed as is required by his position as Public Trustee, closing the conversation by stating that he is only required to answer to Colorado Governor, (D) John Hickenlooper.
The next step in this journalist’s fact finding mission led to the Mesa County District Attorney’s office, in which a clerk shared that the DA was not interested in investigating any accusations of malfeasance concerning the Public Trustee.
Upon further investigation, it was revealed that a direct relative of Mr. Moran works in the office of the Mesa County District Attorney. While this fact alone is cause for suspicion, there is no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing by anyone in the DA’s office regarding the matter.
However, no office personnel would agree to provide a formal statement.
Several calls were simultaneously made to the law office of Dufford, Waldeck, Milburn & Krohn to inquire with Attorney Richard Krohn, who serves as chief legal counsel for the Public Trustee Association of Colorado.
Incoming calls were continually fielded by the firm’s receptionist who simply stated that Mr. Krohn was either busy or unavailable to share a phone call.
In further researching the foreclosure statutes related to the IRS and their redemption process as well as rights to claim any overbid up to the amount of their lien(s), a local title company brought to light that the firm representing the foreclosing lender, the Denver law firm of McCarthy & Holthus, neglected to properly notify the IRS as the mailing list showed a notice of the pending Public Trustee foreclosure sale was sent to the IRS via 1st class mail.
Case law reveals that this error in proper notification is grounds for a formal action to set aside the Public Trustee sale in order to restart the foreclosure action to ensure that proper notification be provided to all lien holders.
In order for said legal process to begin, an IRS representative is required to fulfill their fiduciary responsibility to the US taxpayer.
Perhaps a potential payday of $120,000 isn’t worthy of the IRS’s attention or effort?
If not, a valid question for the Internal Revenue Service is why prudent and consistent monitoring of their Federal Tax Liens seems to be non-existent.
If the IRS decides to act on behalf of the U.S. taxpayer and pursue legal action to either restart the foreclosure or require that the Mesa County Public Trustee be held liable for malfeasance, the question of paramount importance remains whether or not the Mesa County Public Trustee, Michael D. Moran, acted alone in deciding to release funds in excess of $120,000 and how will those monies be recovered in order to make whole the U.S. taxpayer?
Monies which are rightfully owed (in part or in full) to United States taxpayers that Mr. Moran saw fit to hand to a former property owner who forfeited his property in foreclosure after abandoning the house two years prior?
The Mesa County Public Trustee’s website states that Mr. Moran has succeeded in reducing the budget for the Public Trustee office. According to multiple Mesa County workers sharing the common building, this was achieved by terminating two experienced Deputy Public Trustees and subsequently hiring a single inexperienced part time office worker and granting her the title of Deputy Public Trustee in an attempt to balance the workload.
If negligence or ineptitude proves to be the reason in this case against Mr. Moran, the citizens of Mesa County deserve to know what other potentially substantial errors the former bankruptcy attorney turned Mesa County Public Trustee has made which have gone unnoticed by those who are entrusted to govern using a system of checks and balances in order to
protect the common interest of Mesa County citizens as well as United States taxpayers?
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