Squatters Took Over A Soldier’s Home, Then They Got An Unexpected….

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A soldier stationed in Hawaii is fighting to get his Florida home back as squatters have moved in while he was deployed to Afghanistan. WFLA notes that “strangers broke in, changed the locks, moved in and they refuse to leave.”

When U.S. Army Spc Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago, he could never imagine that he would have to wage a legal battle just to get his Florida house back from a pair of ex-convicts who had settled there in his absence.

Michael and his wife, Danielle, live in Wahiawa, Hawaii, where the soldier is currently stationed, but in a little over a month, the family is expected to return to New Port Richey, Florida, where they own a house.

However, Michael’s homecoming has been complicated by the presence of squatters in their one-story residence in the 6800 block of Westend Avenue.

Michael says a couple, Julio Ortiz and his girlfriend Fatima Cardoso, broke into his house, changed the locks, and refuse to leave.

When he called authorities, the Pasco County Sheriff’s department informed the Sharkeys they have no legal grounds to evict the squatters.

Ortiz, 42, told a local news channel that Michael gave him permission to live in the house and that they had a verbal agreement that he would make repairs to the home in exchange for rent-free housing. Michael and his housesitter Lisa Pettus say Ortiz is lying.

Pettus, who was left in charge of the unfinished home while the family lived in Hawaii, says Ortiz was hired as a handyman and was never given permission to live in the house.

Police refuse to throw Ortiz out of the house saying it’s a civil matter.

“I work hard, long hours, and these people never had permission to live in my home,” Michael told WFLA. “They should be thrown out.”

This story very quickly made its way through the social media grapevine and onto the Facebook page of WFLA which first reported the story. Residents were horrified and the general consensus was that something should be done about it.

The outrage culminated in a planned motorcycle ride organized by supporters to convince the squatters to leave. According to the latest reports, the public pressure has worked, as Cardosa and Ortiz — who have spent 12 years in jail for robbery, carjacking, and drug offenses — have made a hasty retreat.

Lauren Price of Veterans Warriors, who helped bring attention to the situation, says that Lowe’s has donated supplies to repair Sharkey’s home and local construction firms have donated their time to clean up the mess left behind.

Speaking to Channel 8 News, an overwhelmed Sharkeys expressed his gratitude saying “I’m used to doing things for everyone else; this is the first time someone has done something for me, It’s pretty much like my extended family, wearing the same uniform as me.”

Watch the video below for more details:

Sources: OpposingViews, WFLA