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Deputies probe dark e-mail sent to Hillsborough School Board member

TAMPA — At least one Hillsborough School Board member received a threatening e-mail, officials said Friday.

Susan Valdes, School Board member for District 1, received the e-mail Thursday afternoon and told campus security. The Sheriff's Office was investigating to determine if the threat is legitimate and if there are any others.

"We take all those seriously and err on the side of caution until we determine whether or not it's some type of extortion scheme," said sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon.

The first report of the incident to sheriff's deputies said someone hacked into the School Board e-mail and sent threats, McKinnon said. But the e-mail seemed more like a scam than a threat, said Linda Cobbe, a Hillsborough County schools spokeswoman.

"It wasn't like a death threat; it was saying that someone has offered me money to kill you, but if you pay me another amount of money, I won't kill you and I will give you a tape of the conversation," Cobbe said.

Cobbe said at least two other school district employees received the same e-mail.

The e-mailed threat starts with a "Hey!" and is filled with misspelled and randomly capitalized words.

The sender signs the e-mail as "Mafia Group Leader" and said Valdes needed to pay $300 for a taped conversation with the friend who wants her dead. Then, $9,800 to spare her life. Her family is also threatened.

The e-mail was sent from Susan Valdes' account,, and

Valdes was elected to the School Board in 2004.

Deputies probe dark e-mail sent to Hillsborough School Board member 03/04/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 4, 2011 4:24pm]
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