A 79-year-old Korean War veteran could land himself behind bars for up to 30 days if he doesn't clean up the junk in his yard.
John Ramsey of Clover, S.C., was fined $500 by the town for collecting everything from washing machines, decorative horses and building materials, and keeping them on his lawn. In Clover, it is illegal to keep junk in your yard. But Ramsey has vowed not to pay the fine, saying that he uses the items for resale so he can pay his bills, reports The Herald of Rock Hill, S.C.
"I'm not paying them $500 because I don't have it," Ramsey told local station WCNC. "I don't mind 30 days, I'm not giving them any money. If I had $20,000, I wouldn't give them $500, honest to God."
Ramsey said that he needs the junk in his yard to survive because Social Security and veterans benefits don't provide him with enough money to pay his bills and afford medication for his disabled wife, Patty.
Town officials said that they've been asking Ramsey to stop storing junk in his yard for more than a year.
If Ramsey doesn't pay the fine, he'll likely serve jail time -- but it wouldn't be his first time in the slammer. A former Ku Klux Klan member, Ramsey was convicted of burning a cross on the front lawn of a former police chief and served time behind bars before the conviction was overturned on appeal. But Ramsey told The Herald that he is reformed, adding that his Mexican neighbors are "the nicest people in the world."
Ramsey said that he has attempted to comply with some of his town's regulations by building a fence around his yard, shielding the junk from view. His next court date is set for Oct. 4, and that's when a judge will decide whether Ramsey will go to jail.
If he does, Ramsey wouldn't be the first person to see the inside of a cell recently because of a property dispute:
• Gary Harrington of Eagle Point, Ore., was given a 30-day sentence for refusing to drain three reservoirs that he built on his property to collect rainwater.
• In another case out of South Carolina, a woman served six days for having a cluttered yard.
• And in Massapequa Park, N.Y., residents can face jail time for simply refusing to mow their lawns.
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