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‘Free’ Plant City orange grove sparks turf war between family, neighbors

in Local Courts by

A turf war has broken out over a five-acre orange grove in Plant City.

After her husband, Russell L. Lightsey, died in 2009 at the age of 90, Josephine Lightsey, an 87-year-old Plant City resident, no longer wanted to deal with a 6.5-acre property the couple bought together in 2003.

To avoid paying taxes on the large property, Lightsey split it into two sectors: a 1-acre lot containing her home, the other 5.5 acres containing orange groves.

She gave the property to Edgar and Linda Lariscy at no cost.

In early 2016, Josephine’s son Larry Lightsey, 67, petitioned to be his mother’s guardian and have the court deem her incompetent.

In August, he sued the Lariscy’s on behalf of his mother for illegally obtaining the property. He accused the couple of conspiring to coax Mrs. Lightsey into transferring the property to them and even accused them of forging her signature. Lightsey claimed that his mother suffered from depression following the death of her husband and she lacked the mental capacity to have clear judgment.

However, in a suit filed Nov. 23, the Lariscy’s argue that they made sure Mrs. Lightsey was certain of her choice before moving forward with the deal. Mrs. Lightsey assured Mr. Lariscy that the property was a burden and she did not want it.

Larry Lightsey did not agree, and began telling neighbors the Lariscy’s persuaded Mrs. Lightsey to hand over the property.

They are suing Lightsey for defamation.

The suit filed by the Lariscy’s suggests a neighbor, who is a real estate agent, informed Lightsey he could make “lots of money” off the property.

The Lariscy’s put in money to get the grove up and running. It is now serving as a functioning orange grove.

Mr. Lariscy was both a business associate or the late Mr. Lightsey and the couple’s neighbor.

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