|Police Seize Mansion From Squatter|
|By KEVIN DOLAK (@kdolak) , SUSANNA KIM (@skimm) and GILLIAN MOHNEY (@gillianmohney)||Feb 7, 2013, 4:56 PM|
Police in Boca Raton, Fla., have seized a $2.5 million mansion from a squatter after he tried to use an antiquated state law to take legal possession of the home from Bank of America.
Andre "Loki" Barbosa has lived in a five-bedroom Boca Raton waterside property since December. The Brazilian national, 23, who reportedly calls himself "Loki Boy," has cited Florida's "adverse possession" law in defending his right to be there. Under the law, a party may acquire title from another party by openly occupying his land and paying real property tax for at least seven years.
Sandra Boonenberg, a spokeswoman for the Boca Raton Police Department, said the police arrived at the home Thursday afternoon with a representative from Bank of America "to warn occupants if [they] remained they would be trespassing.
"No one was inside, and the house has been turned over to a Bank of America representative who is now securing the property," said Boonenberg.
"I must say I'm very relieved to see Boca police finally wind up and take these guys out of the house. ... They've done a great job as far as they could," a neighbor told ABC's West Palm Beach affiliate, WPBF.
Police had been working with Palm Beach County state attorney's office over the past few weeks. In the past 24 hours, the state attorney determined that a trespassing charge could apply.
Barbosa could not be reached for comment.
Police said they did not have a warrant for Barbosa's arrest, but that he could face other criminal charges, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
In a statement issued after the home was secured, a spokeswoman for Bank of America said it appreciated "the assistance of local authorities and the patience of neighbors as we worked to have the trespassers removed.
"We take trespassing seriously, and in the interest of the community, we will take appropriate legal action to protect this and all properties we service," the statement said.
After Barbosa gained national attention for his brazen attempt to take over a mansion, Bank of America filed an injunction on Jan. 23 to evict Barbosa and eight unidentified occupants.
Bank of America was listed as the owner of the home as of July 2012 after it foreclosed on the property. After Barbosa filed for adverse possession, the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser's Office was notified that Barbosa would be moving in, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
The Sun-Sentinel reported that Barbosa posted a notice in the front window of the house naming him as a "living beneficiary to the Divine Estate being superior of commerce and usury." On Facebook, a man named Andre Barbosa calls the property "Templo de Kamisamar."
In the civil complaint, Bank of America said Barbosa and other tenants "unlawfully entered the property" and "refused to permit the plaintiff agents entry, use and possession of its property." In addition to eviction, Bank of America is asking for $15,000 in damages to cover attorney expenses.
Police were called Dec. 26 to the home but did not remove Barbosa, according to the Sentinel. Barbosa reportedly presented authorities with the adverse possession paperwork at the time.
Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said police officers may be disinclined to take action even if they are presented with paperwork that is invalid.
"A police officer walks up to someone who is claiming a house now belongs to him, without any basis at all, is handed a big sheaf of documents, which are incomprehensible," Potok said. "I think very often the officers ultimately feel that they're forced to go back to headquarters and try to figure out what's going on before they can actually toss someone in the slammer."
ABC News' Matt German contributed to this report.