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Former property appraiser trespassed from Hendry Courthouse

Posted at 10:33 PM, Oct 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-16 22:33:50-04

A routine public records request ends with the former Hendry County property appraiser being trespassed from the courthouse.

The incident happened in late August.

"This is just completely uncalled for,” said Kristina Kulpa, who served as property appraiser until 2009.

She wanted to know why her property assessment had jumped suddenly from last year to this year.  She also asked for property tax records for the sugar industry, she wanted to see how much those companies paid in property taxes. 

Big sugar is known for getting tax breaks at all levels of government, but the numbers she got from the county didn't make sense.

"She gave me something, it was inserted in values, like in an excel sheet, it wasn't certified, it was just numbers put in and she wanted to charge me 50 dollars for it,” said Kulpa.

She asked how many hours the staff at the appraiser's office put into preparing the document.

"They were just saying no, to everything I asked,” said Kulpa.

When Kristina left the property appraiser's office at the end of the day, she was met by a Hendry County deputy, who handed her a trespass notification from the courthouse.

It was signed by property appraiser Dena Pittman, who worked for Kulpa when she was property appraiser a decade ago.

"Ms Pittman is blocking public access, simply to protect her own political interests and I have a problem with that,” said Kulpa’s attorney, Michael Chionopoulos.

He’s considering a lawsuit against the county over the incident.

"If she were making some kind of threat, or some sort of scene where she was angry or yelling, or she was using foul language, or otherwise behaving in what would be an inapropriate manner, then perhaps the deputy would be the appropriate thing to do,” said Chionopoulos.

Chionopoulus says the property appraiser's actions shows the county has something to hide.

"It's not so much the documents her as much as it is defending our constitutional liberties and freedoms, because when we fail to do that we lose them.”

4-In-Your-Corner called Pittman twice Tuesday, but did not hear back.