CLOVER, S.C. -- A 79-year-old Clover man says he would rather go to jail on a contempt of court charge than pay the $500 fine that initially got him in trouble in the first place for having junk in his yard.
John Ramsey says he could be considered a junk hoarder, and three things are clear when you talk to him:
He has a lot of junk.
The town of Clover is tired of it sitting in his yard and has sent letters saying so.
John Ramsey is tired of the town telling him.
"Got a bunch of them,” Ramsey said, referring to letters in the mail from the town as well as the York County court system.
Ramsey says he's been cited three times this year for debris in his yard on Leaf Court.
Clover’s town ordinance says it's illegal for homes to accumulate unsightly junk or debris.
Ramsey hasn’t gotten rid of it like the town asked, so now he's in contempt of court.
He says his options are paying the fine or spending a month in jail, unless a judge decides otherwise.
"I'm not paying them $500 dollars because I don't have it,” he said. "I don't mind 30 days, I'm not giving them any money. If I had $20 thousand dollars I wouldn't give them $500, honest to God."
Ramsey says the junk is his cash.
Fixing broken appliances, selling doors, windows and metal is how he makes ends meet because his Social Security and veterans benefits alone aren't enough to pay the bills with disabled wife Patty's prescriptions. .
"Her back pain, her shoulder pain,” Ramsey said.
"He's got to do what he's got to do,” said wife Patty.
Ramsey has been cleaning up and hauling some of the junk away.
Ramsey says the irony is his land used to be the town's junk yard. He remembers coming here with his uncles and picking apart car engines.
"All of this, all of this, back when I was 12 years old, sure was,” he said.
For 20 years, Ramsey has been known as the guy neighbors come to for cheap stuff.
He says where else can you get a running refrigerator for $40 bucks?
Soon, he could be known as the guy who goes to jail for it, with a yard doubling as his supply room.
"They'll really send me to jail,” he said.
Ramsey is due in court October 4 on that contempt of court charge.