TUCKER, Ga. – Much has been made over the years of squatters’ rights. “Squatting” is when someone lives in a home, likely rent-free, and has to be kicked out by the courts. Well, here’s a case with a street-side view into one of the most bizarre cases of trying to evict someone you may ever see.
This story involves a legitimate homeowner, a home for sale, and a convicted child sex trafficker. Guess who has the upper hand? It’s the kind of tale that makes homeowners and landlords confused about whose side the law is on.
Meet Ronan McCabe. “This is my home. And there’s somebody in there, an intruder in there, intruders, who I do not know,” he said. FOX 5 I-Team reporter Dana Fowle stood with him at the edge of his wooded corner lot in Tucker.
The home was posted as plain as day online for sale, not for rent. On closing day, homeowner Ronan McCabe discovered people – strangers – had moved in and changed the locks. “They broke into my house and moved in. All the locks had been changed,” he told FOX 5. Just four days before, McCabe called Gwinnett County police. The home had been empty for just a few weeks before it was filled with the strangers’ furniture.
He says the couple inside told police they had a lease. “They have no contract, no agreement, with me,” he assured FOX 5 and law enforcement. “Gwinnett County police are saying there is nothing they can do.”
This was a Friday. He was told to go to the magistrate court the following Monday and file a dispossessory notice, which meant going through a lengthy evictions process in a backed-up court system to get his home back.
Just a day earlier, that man in the house, calling himself “Raymond Cortez,” sent McCabe a text saying he would leave, for a price. “Dana, that’s a shakedown. That’s a shakedown. You kidding me? They want me to pay them to leave my home. That’s scandalous.”
Frustrated and distressed as he now had his house sale on hold, Ronan McCabe called the FOX 5 I-Team. FOX 5 met him at the house, triggering the “Raymond” to text him again. McCabe read the text out loud: “I’m calling the cops. I’m with my attorney drawing up a lawsuit.”
The house squatter told police earlier that he was a member of the “Sovereign Citizens Movement.” They don’t believe in government, identification, taxes – things like that. Ironically, he didn’t mind calling the authorities to help him stay in a home he doesn’t own.
The Gwinnett County Police Department arrived for the third time in five days. But this trip was different. Things had changed, very quickly. A woman who told police she was the man’s wife abruptly left. The man calling himself Raymond came out, went back in, then suddenly U.S. Marshals started flooding the street. It seems they had a parallel investigation.
“Raymond Cortez” was really Ramon Fuertes III, and he was a wanted man. After busting down the door and sliding him across a floor covered in water and soap – meant to trip up police – they had him. Police and court documents show Fuertes is a convicted federal felon. He had been in federal prison for child sex trafficking, accused of prostituting a young teen he called “Lollipop.” Fuertes was wanted for failing to register as sex offender after his release.