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Largo City Commission candidate denies sending threatening email to political opponent

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Largo City Commission District 3 candidate Robert Avery, who was arrested on Monday on a felony charge of extortion, is denying that he sent the threatening email to political opponent Aaron Darr in August, an email which led to his arrest.

“I’ve never sent him an email. If I would, I’ll admit it,” Avery said Monday night, according to a report from Bay News 9. “Why do I need to threaten anybody to get anybody out of my way? Let the public make the decision.”

Avery says his computer was hacked, and that he did not write the anonymous email to Darr’s site back in August. That email written to Darr said in part, “Got some nice things the citizens of largo will be seeing soon … Remember never post anything digitally you wouldn’t want your mom or partner to see. just saying.”

The 24-year-old Darr has always been candid about his history, specifically about the fact that he contracted HIV in 2008.

“If you know anything about me, you know that I have been dealt a lot of difficult cards and circumstances in my life,” Darr wrote in a statement sent to reporters early Tuesday morning. “Whether it be being raised by a single mother due to domestic violence thrust upon my mother, brothers and myself at the hands of my alcoholic and physically abusive father or being diagnosed HIV positive, just two days before Christmas at 17 years old while still a junior in high school, I have been through a lot.”

Darr says he never wanted anyone to get arrested. But he says that once he received the threatening email, he contacted the FBI, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the Largo Police Department.

Darr says he is “disappointed” by Avery’s actions and “distraught” in his comments made after his release from jail on Monday night.

“For Mr. Avery to insinuate that an affidavit sent from The Largo Police Department in a news release to the press, which stated Robert had indeed admitted to sending the email in question, was false and that he never confessed to sending an email, I find myself in disbelief,” he writes. “I am in complete and total disbelief at the utter arrogance and entitlement exhibited by Robert Avery in his statements since having been released from jail.”

Darr says Avery should take responsibility for his actions and let the evidence speak for itself.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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