BOCA RATON, Fla. – Bank of America is now fighting to kick squatters out of its Boca mansion.
The bank is fighting for an injunction to end the trespassing of a Brazilian national from a $2.5 million waterfront mansion in Boca Raton.
Last month 23-year-old Andre de Paula Barbosa broke into beautiful 5-bedroom home, changed the locks and filed for a claim for adverse possession.
On Thursday Local 10's Terrell Forney explained how filing for adverse possession with the County's Property Appraiser's Office "pushes for ownership of a foreclosed home if a person can live in the home for 7 years and pay current and back property taxes which in this case is more than $30,000." That means Barbosa is living there rent and mortgage free.
The home's exteriors also have to be maintained in a good condition but when Forney approached the backyard he spotted a pond-green swimming pool.
In its civil complaint filed January 23 in Palm Beach County Bank of America states that Barbosa, a Brazilian national, is living there with up to 7 other people and have "refused to permit the Plaintiff and its agents, entry, use and possession of its property. Because of the adverse possession claim, the Sheriff's department has been unwilling to remove the defendants through a criminal trespass charge...Defendants are "squatters" and are in wrongful possession of the subject property without permission or consent by Plaintiff. Defendants have no valid ownership claim to the property, and further have no basis in law for possession to the subject property."
In addition to an injunction Bank of America writes is looking to recover $15,000 in damages.
They want the home back and Barbosa to pick up their attorney fees.
Neighbors told our sister station in West Palm Beach, WPBF, they think Barbosa is a straw man. Camping out at the direction of someone else and they're pretty convinced that person is Paul Murray.
On its website WPBF explained:
"I have that the theory is that this kid is working for somebody else," said Becky Davis. "He's just the warm body that has to occupy the house to make it legal. Because I don't know how he would have found this law that most of us have never heard of."
Neighbors told WPBF 25 News that Barbosa wasn't the first person to appear at the home. A man named Paul Murray first handed out his business card and said he was moving in. Murray's card lists him as "photographer extraordinaire," and his Facebook page said he was a photographer for the Jackson family."
"He told me he was going to use the house as an embassy for his mission," said Mike Avorim. "He said he was going to move in transient families, and I said, 'I don't think that's going to work in this single-family neighborhood.'"
Over the phone Friday night Murray flat-out denied those allegations, telling Local 10's Christina Vazquez he was in the neighborhood only to "snap pictures".
He did however admit to knowing Barbosa.
Murray's Facebook page makes several references to the story, writing: "Please understand people you have a right to the land but many of you don't know that because they are trying to control you. Everything has a law to it but if you don't read you will never know. God give you the right to live any where in the world and it doesn't cost you any thing the system has ever one fool. They don't want to see this the truth and they try to make it sound bad but it is not it is the truth . and they put it right in front of you and you don't see it."
He also references the law Barbosa has employed to stay in the home, "The law is if you see an empty house that is not being taken care of you can file the proper papers and move in it. That is the law."
Local 10's Christina Vazquez asked him to answer allegations from neighbors that he planned to occupy the home with "transients". Murray said he has no interest in the Boca mansion.
On his Facebook page he advocates for the disadvantaged and those struggling to stay in their homes.
"Banks can not own property please read you are being taken study study it is there for you to read. It is all FRAUD That is why they have to pay so many people back now," he writes in one post.
In another he adds, "thee are to many homeless people in this country and now it it time to do something about it. You must read read and teach your self the law"
On Friday night Local 10 drove to the home located at 580 Golden Harbour Drive and found it was pitch black. A neighbor said since the media coverage they have seen little activity in the home.