New Port Richey soldier says squatters won't leave his home - WFLA News Channel 8

New Port Richey soldier says squatters won't leave his home

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Soldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photo Soldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photo
Soldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photo Soldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photo
Soldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photo Soldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photo
NEW PORT RICHEY, FL (WFLA) -

When soldier Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago, he asked a friend to watch over his New Port Richey house. Sharkey and his wife are now living in Hawaii where he is currently stationed. They plan to move back into their New Port Richey home someday. But, right now they are fighting to get their house back.

They say strangers broke in, changed the locks, moved in and they refuse to leave.

"I want the people out," said Sharkey. "They're criminals living in my house."

Sharkey was shocked to find out that the Pasco County Sheriff's Office says it can't do anything about the squatters.

Here's where it gets complicated.

When 8 On Your Side went to check out the situation, we found a man named Julio Ortiz and his girlfriend, Fatima Cardoso, living in the soldier's home. They offered no apologies. They say they know Sharkey doesn't want them there, but they're not leaving until they're ready.

"I don't want problems," Ortiz said. "We're not doing anything wrong."

Ortiz says he has permission to be in the house, just not from Sharkey, the home's owner. Ortiz says he doesn't need a lease because he has a "contract." He described this contract as a verbal agreement with a friend of the soldier to fix up the home, in exchange for living there rent free.

Ortiz said the plan was to fix up the house and then eventually work out a deal with Sharkey to rent the place.

But, Sharkey says this is all lies. He says he's never seen or talked to Ortiz.

Lisa Pettus, who is Sharkey's friend, told 8 On Your Side there was no agreement with Ortiz . She says she met Ortiz through a friend and he agreed to help her fix up Sharkey's home while he was away in the military. She says she supplied all of the supplies and Ortiz and his girlfriend were never left alone in the house.

About two months after the work was done, though, Pettus says she drove by to check on the house and found the pair living there.

"I couldn't believe it," Pettus said. "And now they're using my name to justify this. It's wrong."

Getting Ortiz and his girlfriend out of the house is proving to be difficult. Sharkey's wife flew home from Hawaii on News Year's Eve and went to the house with a sheriff's deputy. But when the deputy heard Ortiz' story about the verbal agreement, he said it was civil matter.

That means Sharkey will have to go through the court system and file for a formal eviction.

Pasco County Sheriff's Office Spokesperson Ken Doll says Ortiz and Cardoso have established residency in the home, so it would take a court order to evict them now.

"I don't think I should have to pay hundreds of dollars and go through that aggravation," Sharkey said. "I work hard, long hours, and these people never had permission to live in my home. They should be thrown out."

Sharkey says he's also worried that when he files for eviction, his unwanted house guests will damage his home.

Adding to his concern is their criminal backgrounds.

Ortiz spent a combined twelve years in prison in New Jersey for robbery, car jacking and selling drugs on school property. He was released in 2011. Fatima Cardorso spent more than two years in prison on drug charges and was released in 2006.

Ortiz was arrested three times in Pasco County last year on minor charges. Cardoso has been arrested in Pasco County seven times on drug charges since 2011.

"They are criminals," Sharkey said. "I am serving my country, and they have more rights to my home than I do."

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.

 

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