South Florida's infamous squatter is squatting no more.
On Thursday police moved in to evict 23-year-old Andre Barbosa from a Boca Raton mansion – but said he was no longer there.
Bank of America owns the foreclosed mansion, worth $2.5 million. Investigators said Barbosa used an obscure process called “adverse possession” to occupy the home. Bank of America sued him.
Boca Raton police conducted a trespassing investigation on Thursday, to make sure that nobody was inside, and Barbosa was not.
“From a police department's perspective, we needed a legal foundation to take some action,” Police Chief Dan Alexander said. “We were able to determine with the state attorney after extensive legal research that there was a basis for us to conduct an investigation.”
Neighbors said it was around Christmastime when Barbosa forced his way into the home and started making it his own, with friends coming and going.
Neighbor Mike Avirom recently went inside, and confronted the squatters.
“I asked Paul ‘What’s going on?’ He said ‘I’m here to assess this building to establish an embassy for our mission,’” Avirom said, referring to someone else who was in the home at the time. “I said ‘What?’ He says, ‘Yeah, an embassy for our mission.”
Residents of the neighborhood said they are thrilled the squatting episode is over.
Avirom said he takes an “old school” view.
“It's not moral, it's not ethical, what they're doing,” he said. “They're taking advantage of the system and that’s not the way I was brought up”