Published On: Fri, Apr 25th, 2014

US soldier Michael Sharkey told to go to court to get squatters out of his house

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.”


Michael Sharkey  photo/Facebook

Michael Sharkey photo/Facebook

Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago and asked a friend to keep an eye on his home in New Port Richey, Fla. while he was away, according to the local NBC affiliate WFLA.

“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. The news station sent a crew and interviewed the current “residents.”

“I don’t want problems,” Julio Ortiz told WFLA. “We’re not doing anything wrong.” Ortiz and his girlfriend Fatima Cardoso are living in the soldier’s home. He says he has a “contract” with a friend of the soldier to fix up the home and stay there.

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.”

The sheriff’s office sent an officer with the soldier’s wife, heard the story of the “verbal agreement” and says the Sharkeys need to go through the court system.

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.

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.”

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