Kevin Tomlinson, the Miami Beach real estate agent arrested this month for allegedly trying to blackmail two competitors, wasn’t out of a job for long.
Fired from his position at One Sotheby’s International Realty days after his Aug. 8 arrest on extortion charges, Tomlinson now works at boutique Miami Beach firm Calibre International Realty.
“I’ve known Kevin for a long time and I think there’s two sides to every story,” said Julian Johnston, who runs Calibre and made headlines in 2012 when he sold a penthouse at the Continuum in South Beach for $25 million, a record price at the time for a Florida condo. “He’s innocent until proven guilty.”
Johnston said he had no hesitations about offering Tomlinson a job despite pending felony charges. “I wanted to offer him my support,” Johnston said. Tomlinson started the new gig on Aug. 12.
Miami Beach police say they have evidence that Tomlinson tried to extort $800,000 from Jill Hertzberg and Jill Eber, two of South Florida’s highest-profile real estate agents. Tomlinson allegedly told the women that he had discovered they were manipulating a database used by brokers to list properties and had filed a confidential complaint with the Miami Association of Realtors, police said. He threatened to go public with the complaint unless the Jills paid up, according to police.
Hertzberg and Eber, who work with Coldwell Banker and are known professionally as the Jills, reported the issue to authorities soon after.
In a written statement, a spokesman for the Jills said they had entered incorrect information into the property database but that it had been “absolutely unintentional.”
“It had nothing to do with properties for sale; it only concerned off market, expired listings,” spokesman Bruce Rubin said. “When they became the victims of a blackmail attempt, they did the right thing — they immediately called the authorities. When good people make an honest mistake, they do the right thing. Others choose extortion.”
The Miami Realtors’ association, a private body, said that its rules prevent it from confirming or denying the existence of complaints about its members.
Reached on his cellphone, Tomlinson said he had uncovered a “massive data breach” in the database, which is called the Multiple Listing Service.
“I’m no white knight and I’m not taking any hero status but I uncovered a data breach and everybody is trying to keep me quiet from the Miami Association of Realtors to the Jills to Coldwell Banker to Sotheby’s,” Tomlinson said. “Everybody wants me quiet.”
He declined to speak about the extortion charges. “I would let my attorney comment on that,” Tomlinson said.
A call to his lawyer was not returned.
Tomlinson is also charged with resisting arrest and reaching for an officer’s gun when police served a warrant at his Miami Beach penthouse. His face was bruised in a mugshot obtained through a public records request. He was released on bail of $11,000.
If convicted of a felony, Tomlinson could have his real estate license suspended or revoked by state.