Man jailed for brown grass freed

Article and Video Courtesy of 
MY FOX Channel 13, TAMPA
Published October 14, 2008

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HUDSON - There is a large sign outside Joe Prudente's home in Hudson. It reads, "Free At Last." He put it up Sunday after spending the weekend in jail. 


Prudente lives in the Beacon Woods subdivision. The community has deed restrictions requiring lawns be kept green. Prudente says his sprinkler system broke, and then his mortgage payments shot up by $600 a month. 

He says he was confronted with a dilemma: keep a roof over his head, or spend the money to keep his lawn green. Prudente let the grass die. That prompted the Beacon Woods Homeowners' Association to go to court. 


The association won a court order demanding Prudente green up his grass. After a long legal fight, Prudente gave up. He turned himself in at the Pasco County jail Friday. 


"It looks better than having someone drag me out in handcuffs," Prudente said.

The Beacon Woods homeowners' association president claims the jail term had nothing to do with the color of grass but the court order. 

"We have been inundated with phone calls and emails from people who believe the issue is one of hard hearted people taking down a property owner. That is certainly not the case," Bob Ryan told FOX 13.

When people in the community heard about 

Prudente's plight, volunteers got two companies to donate sod. They then went over and replaced his grass themselves. Even Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano chipped in to help.


After volunteers completed the sod-planting project, Prudente was released. But his problems aren't over. He still faces court and homeowner's association fines that he has no money to pay.

The battle has left some hard feelings in Beacon Woods. Dave Wilson, a resident, said "I think it's next to a Nazi regime here. The have more power than they really need."