Miami Beach

Police: Miami Beach Realtor tried to extort powerful duo for $800,000

Kevin Tomlinson, bottom left, was charged with two counts of felony extortion after police said he tried to blackmail Jill Hertzberg, center, and Jill Eber, two of Miami’s most prominent luxury real estate agents.
Kevin Tomlinson, bottom left, was charged with two counts of felony extortion after police said he tried to blackmail Jill Hertzberg, center, and Jill Eber, two of Miami’s most prominent luxury real estate agents. Jills photo by Al Diaz; Tomlinson courtesy of Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department

A Miami Beach real estate agent — who sported bruises in his mugshot — was arrested over the weekend after police say he tried to extort $800,000 from two high-powered brokers, known as ‘‘the Jills,’’ and then grabbed for an officer’s gun during his arrest.

Kevin Francis Tomlinson, 48, a high-profile Realtor who worked with One Sotheby’s International Realty, was arrested Saturday and later released on an $11,000 bond, according to jail records.

Tomlinson’s extortion plot began on April 17, 2015, when he filed an ethics complaint with the Miami Association of Realtors against Coldwell Banker brokers Jill Eber and Jill Hertzberg, Miami Beach Det. Wayne Holbrook wrote in an arrest warrant.

Hertzberg and Eber are two of the top luxury brokers in South Florida. In 2012, they sold a mansion in Indian Creek for $47 million, the most expensive home sale in Miami-Dade County history.

In his complaint, Tomlinson claimed the Jills were manipulating listings on the “multiple listing service,” a marketing database used by brokers, in order to reduce the prominence of homes they were having trouble selling, sources familiar with the matter said. Complaints with the Realtors’ association are confidential. They can be filed through a form available online.

Several months after making his complaint, Tomlinson called Hertzberg on July 16 and asked for a meeting “suggesting he had a way of withdrawing” the grievance, Holbrook wrote in the warrant.

The next day Tomlinson came to Hertzberg’s home and said the complaint would go away if she and Eber each paid him $250,000, according to the warrant.

He told Hertzberg that if he did not receive the payment he would go public with the information and ruin their reputations. He then reduced the request to $200,000 each, the warrant says.

That same day the Jills reported the threats to Miami Beach police.

In the beginning of August, a Miami Beach detective told Hertzberg to place four calls to Tomlinson and the “subject continued his extortion plot,” a detective wrote.

Then on Thursday, Hertzberg — with the detective’s knowledge — had Tomlinson come to her home for another meeting. Hertzberg had a check for $400,000, but Tomlinson said he now wanted $800,000 and threatened to make his complaint “front page news” if the Jills did not pay up, according to the warrant.

The next day Hertzberg contacted Tomlinson, who responded by saying “too late Jill,” according to the warrant.

Holbrook obtained a warrant for Tomlinson’s arrest the same day.

On Saturday, Miami Beach police showed up at his penthouse apartment at Meridian Lofts, at 2001 Meridian Ave. in Miami Beach, to serve the warrant and he refused to open up, shouting obscenities at them through a locked door and cursing Hertzberg by name.

In a separate arrest report, an officer said they had to get a key from the building manager and when they entered “the officers were forced to physically grab the defendant by his arms and take him to the ground as he continued to resist.”

After kicking and fighting arrest, Tomlinson “then grabbed the handle of my firearm in an attempt to gain control of it,” an officer said.

He was then charged with resisting arrest with violence and depriving an officer of means of protection, in addition to two felony counts of extortion.

“This is retribution for my grievance with the Miami Association of Realtors,’’ Tomlinson said in a statement emailed to the Miami Herald. “I was threatened by Jill Hertzberg that something like this was going to happen if I went forward with my Miami Association of Realtors grievance.’’

Tomlinson obtained a Florida real estate license in 1994 and established himself as a top broker of Miami Beach property, serving as a member of the board of governors at the Realtor’s association. Last year he sold a lot on Allison Road for $11.7 million. He bought his 1,100-square-foot apartment for $375,000 10 years ago, county records show.

One Sotheby’s said it had “immediately terminated” Tomlinson and would cooperate with police.

In a written statement issued through a spokesman, the Jills said that they were “shaken by this extortion attempt, but want to thank the Miami Beach Police Department for their professionalism and guidance.”

In reference to Tomlinson’s complaint, spokesman Bruce Rubin said there had been “an issue” entering electronic data into the multiple listing service and that the Jills had discussed the matter with the Realtors’ association.

The association declined to comment on the complaint, saying it could not confirm or deny the existence of any complaints.

The incident with Tomlinson isn’t the first case of bizarre behavior featuring South Florida real estate agents.

Back in 2006, Dean Isenberg created fake, raunchy online escort ads featuring the phone numbers of a rival agent in North Miami-Dade. The series of ads sparked hundreds of lurid phone calls to the married mother of three, nearly driving her to a nervous breakdown.

Isenberg later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor stalking in exchange for probation, 300 hours of community service and restitution of $12,500 to the victim.

Miami Herald columnist Lesley Abravanel contributed to this report.

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