Largo Commission Candidate Charged with Extortion
Largo police say he tried to force an opponent out of the race.
LARGO – Police here have accused a candidate for Largo City Commission of threatening to expose negative information about an opponent if he did not withdraw from the race.
Arrested Monday (Nov. 30) and charged with extortion, a felony, was Robert Joseph Avery, 31. Police say Avery, who has filed to run for Largo Commission Seat 3 in the Nov. 8, 2016, election, is accused of composing and sending an anonymous email through Aaron Darr’s website. Darr has also filed to run for Largo Commission Seat 3. The anonymous email said that Avery had negative information on Darr that was obtained digitally and the information would be released if Darr did not drop out of the race. This message was sent about 2:16 a.m. Aug. 29, Largo police say.
Investigators obtained the IP address of the sender of the anonymous email, which police say they identified as belonging to Avery. Avery was taken to the Pinellas County Jail where records show he was bonded out. The case is still being investigated, officers say.
According to Avery’s website, he is running because he wants “to work together with [residents], the other city commissioners, and town hall towards a more positive future for the city of Largo.”
He listed his issues as public safety, accountability, lower taxes, a balanced budget and outreach to the community.
Darr, 24, an Ohio native, says on his website that he is running because Largo is the “most under-served and underdeveloped city in all of Pinellas County.” He notes on his site that he is HIV positive.
Seat 3 is currently held by Curtis Holmes, a licensed insurance agent and owner of First Southeast Insurance Services.
Largo is a commission-manager form of government in which a mayor and six commissioners set legislative policies and pass a budget. A city manager is responsible for carrying out those policies and for the daily running of the city. Commissioners serve a four-year term and run at-large for numbered seats in a non-partisan election.
For information about Largo, go to largo.com.
For information about Avery, go to voterobertavery.com.
For information about Holmes, go to largo.com.
Photo of Robert Avery courtesy of the city of Largo.
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