Veteran forced to sell Florida condo over American flag

Posted at 12:26 PM, Jul 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-06 14:28:35-04

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- They say home is where the heart is. And for Air Force veteran Larry Murphree his heart is with his country 

"One day I was thinking about the country and I put a small American flag on my front porch in a flower pot," he recalled.

Although small, it had meaning. "It stands for a big thank you," Murphree said.

But Murphree says the homeowners association didn't feel the same. "I got a violation letter that stated the American flag was an unauthorized object and for me to take it down." 

The veteran refused. "They started fining me up to $1,000 because I wouldn't take the flag down." 

So, that's when he got lawyer Gust Sarris involved. "We believe we have the right to display the American flag, we filed suit in federal court." 

Sarris says they came to an agreement that the flag could be flown. But a few months later, Sarris says the HOA changed that flag ordinance to a flower pot ordinance. "Somehow they re-categorized it and started doing the same thing again, which was the same flag, the same flower pot, the same dirt and the same plant." 

Murphree was again being charged $100 every day he didn't remove the flag. And here's the kicker; he says his HOA was using his HOA fee money to pay off the fines unbeknownst to him 

"So the monthly homeowner's fees weren't being paid.. that's how they were able to get a lien on the property," Sarris said.

Murphree says this legal battle has now drawn on for 7 years and, all the while, he says the property kept finding new ways to fine him. "They just started nitpicking everything that I did," he said.

He said he had to sell his condo to avoid being foreclosed.

But although Murphree has moved on, his legal battle is still ongoing. "Somebody had to stand up and say.. this is not right."