Returning home after war is supposed to be a joyous experience.
Not so for U.S. soldier Michael Sharkey, who, after returning in one piece from Afghanistan, found his home has been taken over by squatters with multiple felony drug convictions.
Sharkey tells WFLA-TV in Tampa that he left his home in New Port Richey when he was deployed to Afghanistan about two years ago. The Army specialist asked a friend, Lisa Pettus, to fix up the home and try to rent it in his absence.
Pettus said she asked the squatter, Julio Ortiz, to renovate the home with supplies she provided, but weeks after the work was complete he broke in, changed the locks and moved in.
Ortiz and his girlfriend, Fatima Cardoso, refuse to leave.
Sharkey asked the Pasco County sheriff for help but was told the couple had “established residence” and Starkey must spend hundreds of dollars to legally evict the unwanted tenants.
Since Ortiz does not have a lease, he cannot apply for utilities, including water.
Ortiz was confronted by a TV reporter as he lugged buckets of water into the home. At first he told the reporter to put away the TV camera, saying he had “9 pit bulls” inside, but he later gave a tour of Sharkey’s home, which looks like it still needs plenty of repairs.
Ortiz said he is living rent free because he worked on the home. He told the TV crew that he is 42 and “doesn’t want any problems.” He said he has lived a clean life and has never even gotten “a ticket.”
WFLA accepted the challenge and did a criminal background check.
Ortiz has spent 12 years in prison in New Jersey for robbery, carjacking and selling drugs on school property.
Cardoso served more than two years in prison on drug charges.
Ortiz and Cardoso have been arrested multiple times in Pasco County.
My question? If anyone can kick down the door of a vacant home and start living there without paying rent, why are homeless people living on the streets?
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