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Go to jail for you lawn?


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BAYONET POINT — On Friday morning, Joseph Prudente put on a pair of shorts and his "Grandpa Gone Wild" T-shirt. He took off his wedding band and put his heart medication in a plastic Wal-Mart bag.

Then his daughter drove him to jail. Grandpa had time to do.

His crime? He had disobeyed a court order that he sod the lawn at his Beacon Woods home.

His bail? Zero.

Prudente, 66, must stay in the Pasco County jail in Land O'Lakes until the required sod work is completed, under a September court order signed by Circuit Judge W. Lowell Bray.

"He's in prison for God knows how long because we can't afford to sod the lawn," said his sobbing daughter, Jennifer Lehr.

Prudente has owned a home in the deed restricted community since 1998. The covenants require homeowners to keep their lawns covered with grass.

Earlier this year, the Beacon Woods Civic Association took Prudente to court after he failed to install new sod on his browning lawn, which had withered after his sprinklers broke. The association had already sent letters telling him to resod his front and back yards by certain dates.

In an interview at the jail Friday evening, Prudente said he thought he had made a good financial hardship case to the association: His adjustable rate mortgage went up an extra $600 a month. Wachovia repossessed his Toyota Scion. His daughter and her two young children, who had fallen on hard times, moved in with him and his wife, Pat.

"To me, keeping the house is more important than the grass," said Prudente, a retired registered nurse from New York. "I just ignored them."

He ignored them, too, after the association filed a complaint in court. He ignored a court order in May, signed by Bray, giving Prudente 30 days to sod the yard.

In June, the court also awarded the association $795 in fees, which included a $645 attorney's fees and a $150 fee for "an expert witness."

By September, there was still no sod. Bray found Prudente in contempt of court, but said in his order that Prudente could "purge himself of this contempt" by doing the required work within the next 30 days. That time expired Friday.

"It is clear to the Court that the ability to avoid incarceration is well within the Defendant's grasp," Bray wrote.

Representatives of the Beacon Woods association expressed regret Prudente had landed in jail. But they said it was his own fault.

"It's a sad situation," said board president Bob Ryan, who added that the association had followed all the correct procedures. "But in the end, I have to say he brought it upon himself."

Lawyer Thomas Gurran, who represents the association, said in a statement that the association had "just wanted Mr. Prudente to comply with the lawn restriction." He added that the contempt power of judges is essential to the system.

"Many orders and judgements … would be absolutely meaningless if they could not be enforced by a judge's contempt power," he said. "This case is an example of what happens when someone defies an order entered by a judge in our country."

Prudente's family said the case had gone too far. Pat Prudente said she and her husband knew they had chosen to live in a community with restrictions. "But they shouldn't have this much power," she said.

Back at the jail — where the population is 1,132, well above the 782 capacity — Parente said he was being treated well. He has no criminal record in Florida and said his stay in Land O'Lakes was his first time ever in a slammer.

What comes next? He doesn't know. "Should I go out and rob a bank? Then I'd be back here," he said. "But then I'd get out on bail."

What a crazy and sometimes fascist world we live in these days.

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How does that case not get thrown out of court.

because when he signed his deal to get that house he signed something indicating he will follow the rules there...if the rules say he has to sod his yard.......then he has to sod his yard.

Its stupid but he agreed to those terms when he purchased the house.

I will NEVER buy a house with an association.

If I am paying hundreds of thousands of dollars .......I will grow a mini jungle if I feel like it.

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How is it that every homeowners association is full of complete ********?

Oh, wait, I forgot. Its because only a complete ******* would willingly take a job where he sits around and tells people what to do with their own houses all day.

One of my family members lives in a neighborhood with a real strict homeowners association. They seriously go around every day and put letters in mailboxes if they think your grass is too long.

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this exact reason is why I will NEVER buy a house where there is a home owners association.

I lived in a neighborhood in Marietta that didn't have an active HOA and it was a feakin' dump becuase it was full of a bunch of lazy people who refused to pull their weight. The lady across the street from me had trees growing in her GUTTER!

I agree that this case is totally absurd and the leaders of this neighborhood should be ashamed, but a HOA protects the rights of it's members. I will never again live in a place without one.

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Lawn Nazis

Kill 'em all.


HOA: We're not 'a pack of Nazis'

Monday, October 13, 2008

PASCO COUNTY (Bay News 9) -- A Pasco County man's community has pulled together to help him out.

Joseph Prudente, 66, got a $1,000 fine from the Beacon Woods Civic Association in Hudson after he didn't replace the brown sod in his yard.

Prudente said he didn't do it because he had to pay his home mortgage, which was two months behind.

But when he didn't show up for a court date over the brown yard, a judge found him in contempt of court. Prudente had to report to jail and he did it wearing his "Grandpa Gone Wild shirt."

"The other residents (inmates), they didn't believe it when I says, 'Why you in here?', I says 'grass'," Prudente said. "They say, 'You mean' (gesture)? I said 'No, grass on the ground.'"

He spent two nights in jail, which outraged Andy Law, who saw the story in the newspaper.

"I personally thought it was wrong. It's wrong to put our senior citizens in jail for a brown lawn," he said.

Law rallied 15-20 people from the community, including a city council member. They worked all day to put Prudente's yard together.

"You get a bunch of guys and it's like putting a puzzle together," Law said.

They got donated sod, a sprinkler and the yard was green again.

So, the judge released Prudente.

Now, the HOA president is getting hate e-mail from across the world.

"We are not as we we're called in some of e-mail 'a pack of Nazis', we're not power hungry people," said HOA president Bob Ryan. "We are simply fellow homeowners of Mr. Prudente, I felt sorry for him."

But he says Prudente didn't follow the rules and the HOA was just following rules that apply with Florida statue's for homeowner associations.

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heheh,...much better


President - Bob Ryan

Committee Chair: Publicity/Communications


Vice President - Tom Pohl

Committee Chair: Special Events & Dances


Secretary - Mike Miller

Committee Chair: Deed Restrictions


Treasurer - Denise Randall

Committee Chair: Operating House


Director - Ann Bunting

Committee Chair: Adult Activities


Director - Jim Gilligan

Committee Chair: Building & Grounds


Director - Helmut Meier

Committee Chair: Architectural Review


Director - Ignacio Rodriguez

Committee Chair: Youth Activities


Director - Carl Spoeth

Committee Chair: Public Affairs




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If this guy is having financial problems and can't afford to resod the lawn, then maybe the HOMO association should've tried to find a way to help instead of pestering the guy.


The Home Owner's Association shouldn't get the blame for this, and I don't understand why people are bashing them

Without a HA, you could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, only to watch your neighbor "grow a mini jungle, if he feels like it", and watch your house's value diminish right before your eyes.

HA protect your investment, people who are against them are fools.

My neighbor, probably 10 years ago, moved here from Minnesota and wanted to park his boat in his front yard during the winter when it wasn't used on Lake Lanier......... why would I want his boat in his front yard? Luckily, the HA quickly stopped this, and it kept looking like a neighborhood.

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