NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA) – When a soldier was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago, he never thought he would face a different battle when he arrived home.
Soldier Michael Sharkey and his wife are now living in Hawaii, where he is currently stationed but plan to move back to their New Port Richey home someday.
First, they have to fight to get that house back.
“They are criminals,” Sharkey said. “I am serving my country, and they have more rights to my home than I do.”
Sharkey told WFLA that strangers broke in, changed the locks and moved in.
Now, they refuse to leave.
Sharkey said, “I want the people out. They’re criminals living in my house.”
The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office says their hands are tied when it comes to squatters.
The man living in the house, Julio Ortiz, says he has a verbal contract with a friend of the soldier.
He claims since he fixed up the house, he was able to live in the house rent free.
Deputies say it is a civil matter, which has to go through the court system.
“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.”