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Tenants charged in man's attack

A landlord tells police he was kidnapped, beaten and slashed by two tenants he was trying to collect back rent from.

A 72-year-old landlord was kidnapped, stabbed and beaten by two of his tenants Wednesday night, police said, then left for dead in a deserted parking lot.

The attackers _ identified by police as a father and his 16-year-old son _ are being held without bail on attempted murder, kidnapping and carjacking charges.

The victim is James Kordis, a well-known member of Pasco County's Greek community who served as president of the St. George Greek Orthodox Church and was a founding officer of the Hellenic American Veterans Association.

The ordeal began when Kordis went to the River's Edge apartment complex on La Salle Court in New Port Richey to collect $800 in back rent from tenant Joseph Anthony Romeo Sr., Port Richey police said.

Romeo, 49, and his son, Joseph Romeo Jr., asked Kordis to drive them to the parking lot of the Uptown Cafe on U.S. 19, police said. The Romeos said they could get the money at the restaurant from a friend.

But when they arrived at the closed restaurant, the father and son attacked Kordis, police said.

Kordis was hit in the head with a piece of aluminum, police said, and stabbed in the chest and stomach with a knife. Kordis tried to defend himself and received a gash on his hand, a police report said.

The Romeos then pushed Kordis into the back seat of his Mercury Sable, got in the front seat and drove around New Port Richey, police said.

Kordis told police that Joseph Romeo Sr. talked about wanting to be Kordis' maintenance man at the River's Edge apartment complex and said that he should not have to pay rent, an affidavit said.

Romeo also told Kordis that if he called police, he would kill him, according to the report.

The father and son parked the car near the Clarion Hotel on U.S. 19 and walked away from Kordis, who was bleeding heavily, police said.

Had Kordis not hoisted himself into the driver's seat and driven himself a mile to Community Hospital of New Port Richey, he probably wouldn't be alive, said Port Richey Detective John Seidler.

"He almost died," said Seidler, adding that hospital personnel said that Kordis' heart rate was 40 beats per minute when he walked into the hospital's emergency room. A normal heart rate usually is between 60 and 85 beats per minute.

Kordis was able to tell police about his attackers, and officers from Port Richey, New Port Richey and the Pasco County Sheriff's Office scoured the area. Police found the Romeos at a friend's house. Romeo Sr. was taken to the jail in Land O'Lakes, and his son was taken to the Pasco Juvenile Detention Center on Wednesday night.

Kordis was hospitalized in stable condition Thursday night.

This isn't the first time Kordis has had a run-in with tenants. In 1995, the Times reported that New Port Richey building inspectors discovered 58 building code violations at Kordis' River's Edge complex. Residents had complained to the city about neglected repairs, including leaking roofs and disconnected smoke alarms.

Kordis told the Times that the repairs were relatively minor.

"I don't think it's wise to write about an honest businessman just to protect some little bugs," Kordis said in 1995. "These are small violations that aren't my fault. The tenants are destroying the place."

On Wednesday, tenants at the River's Edge apartments were shocked to hear of the attack and said Kordis was a good, if strict, landlord.

Kordis' friends in the Greek community also were stunned to hear that the man known for his delicious Greek cuisine nearly died during a violent beating.

"He is a very honest, good person and a good Christian," said Nicholas Finikiotis, a friend of Kordis'. "Whatever he did, he did it well."

_ Times staff writer Tamara Lush is the police reporter in Pasco County. She can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6245 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6245. Her e-mail address is lushsptimes.com.

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