-- A high-end Miami real estate agent is accused of trying to extort nearly $1 million from two real estate agents who are behind some of South Florida’s most glamorous property listings.
According to court documents, suspect Kevin Tomlinson filed a complaint in April alleging listing violations against Jill Hertzberg and Jill Eber, who are popularly known as “the Jills.”
In July, Tomlinson, 48, allegedly offered to “resolve the complaint and make it go away” if the women paid him $500,000. He allegedly later increased the demand to $800,000, adding that if the women didn’t pay, he would make his complaint “front page news” to ruin their reputations, according to the court documents.
Hertzberg and Eber alerted authorities after they were contacted by Tomlinson with the alleged extortion demand. Miami Beach police say when they went to Tomlinson’s Miami Beach penthouse early on the morning of Aug. 8, Tomlinson yelled profanities and refused to open the door, forcing them to obtain a key from the building manager.
When police opened the door, Tomlinson allegedly resisted arrest and grabbed an officer’s firearm in an attempt to gain control of it, the court papers said.
Tomlinson was arrested on a warrant charging him with two counts of extortion. He was also charged with resisting arrest.
He appears bruised in his police booking photo. He was released on bond, and is due back in court Sept. 8.
In a statement, Tomlinson’s attorney, John E. Bergendahl, denied any wrongdoing on the part of his client, writing, “The extortion charges leveled against Mr. Tomlinson have no basis either in fact or in law.”
"The real problem in this case is with the Jills," Bergendahl's statement read. "We believe that the evidence in this case will show that over the course of several years the line between sharp business practices and clearly inappropriate conduct was crossed by the Jills. Mr. Tomlinson, as he should have, reported their misconduct to the appropriate regulatory authority and has now been unjustly retaliated against."
Tomlinson has been fired from ONE Sotheby’s International Realty.
In a statement, a spokesman for Hertzberg and Eber said they were shaken by the alleged extortion attempt.