Community outrage accomplished what Florida law could not.
Squatters who moved into soldier Michael Sharkey‘s home after he was deployed to Afghanistan and defiantly refused to leave are now gone, Fox News reported.
As of Thursday, the house looked to be empty, with the exception of two dogs left behind, according to the local NBC affiliate WFLA. The property was left a mess.
Julio Ortiz and his girlfriend moved in the New Port Richey home, claiming they had a verbal agreement with a friend of Sharkey’s to live there free in exchange for work done on the house — the friend disputed the claim.
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Local law enforcement said at the time that it was a civil matter and a court order would be needed to evict the couple because they had established residency in the home.
The pair have an extensive criminal history, with Ortiz serving 12 years in prison in New Jersey for robbery, carjacking, and selling drugs on school property, Fox News reported.
“They are criminals,” Sharkey said in an earlier report. “I am serving my country, and they have more rights to my home than I do.”
Lauren Price, a retired Navy officer who learned of the story through social media, helped get rid of the squatters. Her organization, Veteran Warriors, is also organizing a cleanup and remodel of the house, WFLA reported.
Appearing on “Fox and Friends” to discuss the case, Price said that being a squatter is not against the law in Florida, but the couple is facing charges for theft of utilities.
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