Squatters Invade Soldier's Home, Strangers Come To His Aid
Kristin Danley 2/2/2017
After finishing his deployment in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Spc. Michael Sharkey was stationed overseas in Wahiawa, Hawaii, with his wife, Danielle. The couple was looking forward to returning home to their cozy one-story ranch house on Westend Avenue in New Port Richey, until they discovered something horrible had happened while they were gone. What's worse is there was nothing they could do about the situation.
Danielle flew back to Florida New Year's Eve and when she stopped by the house, she discovered some very unwanted guests. Squatters had taken up residence at her own home while she and her husband were across the ocean. A couple had broken into the home and changed the locks, reported the Daily Mail.
Not only were they squatters who invited others over and threw parties, played loud music and trashed the home and property, but the man, Julio Ortiz, is a convicted felon.
Ortiz served a combined 12 years in a New Jersey prison for robbery, selling drugs on school property and carjacking. His girlfriend, Fatima Cardoso, also had been staying there. She served more than two years in prison on drug charges. She also had a lengthy rap sheet.
When Danielle couldn't get into her own home and saw what was happening, she left and returned with a Pasco County sheriff's deputy. However, he told her there was nothing he could do--it was a civil matter. The convicts claim they were given permission to live in the home by a friend of U.S. Army Spc. Sharkey. They were supposed to be repairing the home while the couple was gone and were allowed to live there in the meantime, Ortiz said.
The Sharkeys say that's a lie, as does the friend Lisa Pettus who had been supervising the home. Lisa said Ortiz was to be renovating the home with supplies she provided, but he and his girlfriend were not supposed to be living there, according to the Daily Mail.
Unfortunately, the Sharkeys would have to fight to get their home back in court. They would have to try to evict the convicts and spend hundreds of dollars--if not more--when the couple shouldn't have been living there in the first place, they said.
"I work hard, long hours, and these people never had permission to live in my home. They should be thrown out. They are criminals. I am serving my country, and they have more rights to my home than I do."
However, under an obscure Florida real estate law, the "adverse possession" is a principle that states anyone who possesses the land of another person for more than seven years actually has the right to claim legal title to that land. Sharkey said that is not the case here.
"The people that are in this house cannot produce any documentation, lease, agreement, anything that they belong in that house."
When people heard about the Sharkeys' situation, it didn't take long until strangers banded together and took matters into their own hands. Two groups of bikers-many of whom are military veterans-vowed to visit the home and "peacefully make the squatters uncomfortable." Apparently, the convicts weren't interested in that solution, because they packed up and moved out shortly after that.
Here's a recap of the events leading to the convicts' quick exit from the home.
Lauren Price, a retired U.S. Navy solider with Veterans Warriors, told The Blaze that she had been contacted by veterans around the world who wanted to help the Sharkeys. An attorney volunteered to oversee the eviction process and others offered to watch the property until the Sharkeys returned home. Veterans Warriors also planned to clean up and remodel the house.
Overall, the outpouring of support for the Sharkeys has been wonderful. Now tell us, what do you think of this situation?