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The Million Dollar Squatter: Crazy in the Land of Coconuts and Bagels

April 15, 2014

Tags: crazy, Boca Raton, South Florida, squatter, mansion, Loki, Broken Sound, refuge, Abbie Hoffman, Mystery Writers of America, blog tour

The Million Dollar Squatter: Crazy in the Land of Coconuts and Bagels

Joan Lipinsky Cochran

“Florida is a giant bug light for crazy people.” ~ Phyllis Smallman, Sleuthfest 2014

It’s no surprise to any author living in Florida that some of the craziest stories we can write are actually inspired by true events in our sunshine state. Join us in exploring a different side of Florida than the travel bureau promotes with our first Blog Hop sponsored by Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Read on, click the links below to read another member’s view of crazy Florida, comment, share your favorite stories, and enter the contest to win a Kindle Paperwhite.

Crazy In Boca Raton: The Squatter

Everyone's always talking about the crazies in Miami ... and leaving out Boca Raton. But the truth of the matter is we have our own crazies—they're just a little more innovative (read crooked) and dress better. A certain community I won't name was known in the late 1980s and early 1990s for its overabundance of junk bond kings. You know, Michael Milkin wannabees. Children who lived there had to lie to their friends about Daddy being away on business. Sure he was away. In the big house. And not the one on Long Island. More recently, Broken Sound, a country club community with big metal gates and its own golf cart-riding Gestapo, became famous as the place where Ruth Madoff sought refuge after her Ponzi schemer husband's conviction. Visitors from New York have asked me to drive them past her house. And I don't think they want to commiserate.

I don't mean to be unkind. I feel bad about the collateral damage done to the families of these crooks. It's just strange and a little creepy that so many infamous and undeservedly wealthy people chose to take refuge from the slings and arrows of their own misdeeds in my neighborhood.

In 2013, my favorite "refugee" was an enterprising 23-year-old Brazilian who hates waste ... as in the waste of a perfectly good waterfront mansion. So, like any clever "squatter," he set up shop in a $2.5 million foreclosed home, living it up with his hard-partying buds among the swaying palms of a swanky East Boca Raton neighborhood. Andre "Loki Boy" Barboza tried to claim ownership of the home under Florida's adverse possession law, which he seemed to believe allows a squatter to take over abandoned property and claim it after living there seven years.

The neighbors went nuts. And who could blame them. Loki Boy and his friends scurried in and out to avoid visits from the police but still managed to hang around the house for something like two months. And you thought you had lousy neighbors.

The guy had guts. According to New Times, a South Florida weekly, he even launched his own record label. And guess who was his first client? You got it. Loki Boy. He extended his 15 minutes of infamy with a YouTube video of him and his buddies dancing inside the mansion (actually a green screen) to the tune of "I Don't Want to Let You Go." Weird thing is, he was never charged with anything, though Boca Raton police warned he'd be charged with trespassing if he returned.

I don't know if I have the nerve to do what Loki Boy and his amigos did. Sure, I'd like to live in a $2.5 million waterfront mansion—though I'd prefer one with furniture. And, to tell the truth, in the 1970s, I read Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book—a bible for getting things free. But the most daring items I've stolen were candy at Publix (my sister's dare) and a plate of pancakes at IHOP (a roommate's dare). So I guess I'm stuck living in my own home, mortgage and all.

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Visit our Other Contributors and win more prizes:

Victoria Allman, Gator Bites

Miriam Auerbach, Bonkers in Boca

Gregg E. Brickman, Crazy South Florida—How it got to be home

Diane Capri, Fishnado!

Nancy J. Cohen, Characters Too Weird to Be True

Joan Lipinsky Cochran, The Million Dollar Squatter: Crazy in the Land of Coconuts and Bagels

jd daniels He Did What?

Joy Wallace Dickinson, In Florida, It's Great to Be a Cracker”

Dallas Gorhman

Linda Gordon Hengerer, Crazy Treasure on the Treasure Coast

Vicki Landis, Eavesdropping 101

Sandy Parks, Keep your eyes to the Florida skies

Neil Plakcy, Moscow on the Intracoastal

Johnny Ray Utilizing Google Plus Air to Facilitate Author Interviews

Joanna Campbell Slan">Honey, You'll Never Guess What Rolled Up in the Surf


  1. April 15, 2014 10:05 AM EDT
    Jordy Belfort's ex-partner lives in Boca, too. And the guy with the $4,000.00 (+ or-)shower curtain. And . . . Yeesch.
    - Victoria Landis
  2. April 15, 2014 2:58 PM EDT
    Green Screen. Thats just what Ive got. The blog has a dsrk green font on a light green background, not the best to look at when you have been told you have cataracts to be removed! B xxx
    - Barry Linton
  3. April 15, 2014 4:49 PM EDT
    Truth is stranger than fiction yet again. Good story.
    - Gregg
  4. April 15, 2014 9:59 PM EDT
    Candy from Publix?!? You are rebellious, Joan. Luckily, you live in a state where the people who do the hard crimes like you've committed are rarely found guilty. ;)
    - Victoria Allman, author of: SEAsoned: A Chef's Journey with Her Captain
  5. April 16, 2014 12:16 PM EDT
    There is an old Chinese curse: may you live in interesting times. Maybe we can update that with a new American curse: may you live in interesting neighborhoods.(?)
    - Esther Toporek Finder
  6. April 16, 2014 1:29 PM EDT
    I love that Chinese quote ... both enrich our lives, especially when we're looking for characters and settings.
    - Joan Lipinsky Cochran
  7. April 16, 2014 2:45 PM EDT
    Interesting neighbors and contentious homeowners' associations are the topics in my next mystery, Hanging By A Hair. A neighborhood might look peaceful but lots of secrets can hide behind those glossy front doors.
    - Nancy J. Cohen
  8. April 17, 2014 11:47 AM EDT
    Contentious homeowner's associations! -- can't believe no one wrote about the condo commandos, though I am grateful for the people who serve on boards in our community. I thought someone would kill me when I served on our community's "taste patrol" which determines what changes you can make to your house.
    - Joan Lipinsky Cochran
  9. April 17, 2014 11:51 AM EDT
    Love those Bad Boys of Boca. They give us plenty to write about.
    - Miriam Auerbach
  10. April 17, 2014 12:21 PM EDT
    I remember the story about Loki Boy. DIdn't know he got off scott-free. Wow. Those are some neighbors you have. You have the perfect environment for a book about "The Neighborhood." Think about it. LOL.
    - Sandy Parks
  11. April 19, 2014 9:28 AM EDT
    Amazing, and hilarious.
    - Joy Dickinson