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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Tarpon Springs police investigate mysterious anonymous letters sent to three former city officials

Tarpon Springs police are investigating a series of anonymous letters containing threats and personal attacks sent to three former city officials who openly criticized Mayor Chris Alahouzos during the recent election in March.

The letters, sent with fake return addresses and without signatures, were found in the mailboxes of former Mayor Anita Protos, former City Manager Beverly Billiris and former Commissioner Cindy Sanner, who each say they believe the letters are a form of retaliation from the Alahouzos campaign.

Alahouzos, who accused the women and opponent, Frank DiDonato, of Sunshine Law violation during the race, says he has no knowledge of the letters. Former Commissioner Jim Kolianos, who served on the mayor's campaign, says he is sure "there is no one on our committee that would do something like that."

But Protos says she disagrees and believes it is because the women "spoke out on issues related to the business of the city."

"Who exactly is responsible, we'll never know," she said. "But it seems to have been a vindictive person of hate that sadly doesn't realize we live in America, where we have the freedom to support who we want."

One of the letters Protos received started like this:

"Dear Anita,

Your hatred for the Greek community has shown its nasty head. Like a demon from your evil soul. just so you know, your efforts to condemn the Greek community are well known and your true colors were shown in the recent elections. You are like a venomous snake with no blood in your body just poisonous venom.

It flows in your recent comments in the paper and now for eternity you will be remembered not for any good you may have ever done but for the anger and hatred toward the Greek community you showed publicly and privately."

The letter continues for a few more paragraphs and includes personal insults toward Protos and her family. She said she received a second letter saying "the ISIS of Tarpon" would be coming for her.

Sanner declined to comment until the investigation is complete. Billiris said her letter was too personal to share, but says she finds the whole ordeal "disgraceful" and wonders why the letters came after Alahouzos had already won.

"I've been in many campaigns myself and I am usually aware of what everyone in my campaign is doing, so I would imagine that whoever sent the letter probably would have told (Alahouzos) that they did so," she said.

Protos agreed and said "if this is any indication of what kind of people Alahouzos has supporting him, we should all be worried."

Despite the nasty notes, the women say they are glad they stood up for what they believed in during the election.

"I speak out because I want the best for Tarpon Springs," Protos said. "I will always be outspoken and stand up for what I feel is right for our community."

Former Mayor David O. Archie said he didn't think the women said "anything too condemning that someone would be outraged enough to resort to hate mail," and said the anonymity of the letters made them even worse.

"I don't have respect for people who want to have anonymity when they are saying disparaging things about a person," he said. "If you feel a certain way, put your name by it like (Protos, Sanner and Billiris) did." 

The investigation was prompted by Becky Archer, wife of former Commissioner Jim Archer, who said she "hated to see people getting mail like that" and felt she had to tell someone to make it stop.

Police Chief Robert Kochen said the department is still reviewing the case, but "based on what we have to date, we should be finishing up soon."

[Last modified: Thursday, May 19, 2016 2:22pm]

    

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