Huh? Denver officially bans extortion, bribery and brawling at foreclosure auctions

The number of foreclosed properties getting sold at auction has dropped significantly in Colorado. In Denver, just 186 were snagged at the auction block last month, a 25 percent drop from the 249 that were sold in January 2010.

Could increased competition be an explanation for why the Denver Public Trustee's office feels the need to impose new rules on the weekly foreclosure sales?

A document titled "Foreclosure Sale Code of Conduct" that was recently posted inside the Wellington E. Webb Building lists the types of behavior that will henceforth be banned from the city's property auctions. The banned behaviors include talking on cell phones, texting, and using laptops or smart devices.

Also, bidders are no longer permitted to talk with other auction participants or to leave their seats and approach sellers -- lest they be "ejected from the auction." And, according to #7, bribery isn't allowed. All fair enough.

But what's up with #5 and #9?

Bidders or observers are prohibited from using intimidation, threats, coercion or extortion to sway bidding or investment outcomes in their favor.

Verbal or physical altercations will result in ejections from the auction and possible contact with the Denver Police.

Extortion? Physical violence? Denver employees were on furlough Friday and are on vacation today, so I was unable to ask Chief Deputy Public Trustee Sindee Wagner if the new code of conduct is in response to recent turmoil at the auctions or if she just felt the need to be very, very specific.

Either way, sounds like Denver employees need their vacation day.

Read Jared Jacang Maher's investigation into one of the city's most liquid assets, the Wastewater Enterprise Fund, here.

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