By Philip Navarrette
“You are ‘dead meat.’ We know who and where you and your family work! Life as you know it is over! Move or be blasted.”
These words greeted Cleburne resident Harold Gentry when he opened a letter he received in the mail Friday afternoon.
The letter apparently came from an anonymous individual upset about Gentry’s work with local watchdog group Access Cleburne and the Texas Education Agency’s investigation of Cleburne ISD’s financial practices, which stemmed from a complaint written to the agency, Gentry said.
But this isn’t the first letter the group’s members have received, member Alden Nellis said.
“This is the fourth one,” Nellis said. “Harold’s gotten two, and I’ve gotten two. It started when we first sent our complaint into the TEA.”
Gentry said he received his first letter in 2005.
“Police tell us it's written by the same person,” Gentry said.
Nellis and Gentry said the letters contain the similar styles and syntax.
“There were some very similar terminology used,” Gentry said.
But both said they’re not deterred in their work to uncover misused district funds.
“We’re getting close to some other stuff, and I just think it’s somebody wanting us to stop digging,” Gentry said. “I think this is someone who has something to lose.”
Gentry said he doesn’t expect anyone will follow through on the threats made on him, “but of course, you never know.”
The men report the threatening letters to the Cleburne Police Department every time they receive a new one.
“They’ve gone and put everything together and are pursuing an investigation on that basis,” Nellis said. “They do a good job.”
Nellis said he wasn’t immediately alarmed when he received his threats, but Cleburne Police Chief Terry Powell told them there could be a concern.
“I told Chief Powell that I wasn’t concerned because it’s just somebody blowing off some steam with a prank, but he said ‘You need to be a little concerned because anybody that’s capable of doing this is capable of going off the deep end and doing what they’re threatening to do.’”
Sgt. Amy Knoll of the Cleburne PD confirmed police are investigating and said they are treating the case as harassment.
The school district issued a statement concerning the threatening letters.
“Cleburne ISD does not agree with or condone actions such as this, and we are glad to see that the Cleburne Police Department has been notified and is conducting an investigation,” according to the statement. “While we are concerned and dismayed about something like this occurring in our community, Cleburne ISD should in no way be associated with this letter and is not involved in the investigation.”
Threat comes after release of TEA financial report
By Philip Navarrette
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