Florida veteran forced to sell condo after displaying American flag

SWEETWATER, Fla. (WFLA) - A Florida veteran says he had to sell his condo in the midst of a legal battle that started over an American flag.

Larry Murphree, an Air Force Veteran from Sweetwater, says he's been battling his Homeowners Association for seven years now, and the battle is just heating up.

He told NBC affiliate WTLV it all started with an American flag.

"One day I was thinking about the country and I put a small American flag on my front porch in a flower pot," he said. "It's a small flag but it stands for a big thank you."

Murphree says the HOA at Sweetwater then sent him a violation letter stating the American flag was an unauthorized object. They asked him to take it down, but he refused.

"They started fining me up to $1,000 because I wouldn't take the flag down," Murphree said. 

That's when he got a lawyer involved.

"We believe we have the right to display the American flag," lawyer Gust Sarris said. "We filed suit in federal court."

The lawyer says they came to an agreement to allow the flag to be flown. But a few months later, he says the HOA changed the flag ordinance to a flower pot ordinance.

"Somehow they re-categorized it and started doing the same thing again," he said.

The HOA started charging Murphree again - $100 every day he didn't remove the flag.

Murphree says they were using his HOA fee money to pay off the fines, without his knowledge. 

"So the monthly homeowner's fees weren't being paid. That's how they were able to get a lien on the property," Sarris said.

Murphree says the property continued to find new ways to fine him, and he eventually had to sell his condo to avoid being foreclosed on.

"Somebody had to stand up and say this is not right," he said.

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