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Posted: 3:07 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, 2012
By Sarah Rosario
CLOVER, S.C. —
A 79-year-old South Carolina man could face jail time if he doesn't clean up his yard. John Ramsey has been told several times to get rid of the junk and now, if he doesn't pay a $500 fine, he'll go to jail for a month. Ramsey's yard is full of personality, and in the 20 years that he's owned his home, he's collected items which he sells for cash. According to the town of Clover's law, it is illegal to store building materials, including unused products, machinery and other items classified as junk, in one's yard. Code enforcement told Eyewitness News on Friday they've been warring with Ramsey to clear out the clutter in his back yard for a year and a half.
They've posted notices on his door, sent him certified mail and even made home visits. A spokesperson said they finally gave Ramsey a court summons and he was convicted of disobeying code enforcement.
The judge gave him six months to clean up the mess.
When Ramsey didn't, he was found in contempt of court and ordered to pay $500 or spend 30 days in jail. "I'll go to jail if they give me a sentence. I'm not giving them $500.
That's money my wife and I need," said Ramsey. Ramsey said the items he collects and sells aren't junk; they're his livelihood.
He said the items help pay his bills and for his wife's medication. Neighbors said taking that away from him isn't fair. "Outside of helping himself, he helps all of us," said Michelle Shawger. Ramsey said he's been cleaning up what he can. He built a fence to hide the mess, but according the judge, he was supposed to get rid of it. Ramsey was originally scheduled for court on Monday but his court date was pushed back to Oct. 4, which gives him more time to clean up the mess but his deadline to pay the fine was Wednesday. Now a judge will decide then whether he'll serve time.
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