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Soldier Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago and asked a friend to watch over his house in New Port Richey, Florida. Sharkey never thought that he would have to fight a battle to save his home from ex-convict squatters.

As reported by WFLA News Channel 8, strangers broke into the home Sharkey shared with his wife Danielle, changed the locks, then moved in. The squatters, Julio Ortiz and his girlfriend Fatima Cardoso, then refused to leave. 

Ortiz claims that there was a verbal contract made with Sharkeys friend who was watching the home. Mr. Ortiz said the agreement was that he would live there rent-free while he renovated the house, then later a rental agreement would be worked out. However, Sharkey and Lisa Pettus, Sharkeys friend, say there was no such agreement.

Ms. Sharkey went to the house and had a sheriffs deputy with her but was unsuccessful in removing the two squatters. 

The squatters know that the family wants them out of the house, but say they wont leave until they want to. That may be sooner than Ortiz lets on because the two have been using buckets for water, unable to get the utility company to turn it on without a lease.

Support has streamed in for the Sharkeys since the station originally aired their story. Many have offered the military family help and agree with Sharkeys outrage. "They are criminals, said the soldier. I am serving my country, and they have more rights to my home than I do."

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