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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Charge dropped against Largo Commission candidate accused of extortion

23

February

LARGO — Authorities this month dropped a charge against a commission candidate accused of extortion.

The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office decided not to pursue the case after Largo Police reported that Avery, 31, sent an email claiming to have compromising information on Aaron Darr, a former seat 3 candidate.

Mark McGarry, felony division director of the office, said Tuesday the statements were too vague to prosecute on.

“Reading behind the lines, I don’t get to do that as a prosecutor,” he said. “We all know what he was doing. The actual print doesn’t come out and say it.”

The email, sent at about 2:15 a.m. Aug. 29, said the author had "nice things the citizens of Largo will be seeing soon" and for Darr to remember to "never post anything digitally you wouldn't want your mom or partner to see."

Using the sender’s IP address, authorities traced the message back to Avery’s computer.

Following the arrest, Avery told the Tampa Bay Times someone must have hacked his computer.

But in an interview with police the day he was arrested, Avery agreed with police that he was the only who could have sent the email after officers told him the IP address was traced back to his apartment, which he shares with his mother and partner. He added that he may have been “out of his mind” when the email was sent and typed it in his sleep.

Avery could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Darr, 24, dropped out of the race in late January, a decision he said had nothing to do with the extortion case. Instead, he decided to throw his support behind another seat 3 candidate, Neil McMullen, who Darr feels shares his vision for the city.

Darr said he was discouraged prosecutors decided not to pursue the charges.

“I thought the state attorney’s office would uphold the laws and do what they're supposed to do, and they didn't,” he said, “and it's very disappointing to me.”

[Last modified: Tuesday, February 23, 2016 5:24pm]

    

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