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