The story of Miami agent and alleged extortionist Kevin Tomlinson is difficult to sort out.
He talks to Brad Inman about his months-long drama calling out alleged MLS data manipulation and then getting arrested on extortion charges.
In April, the 20-year real estate veteran filed a complaint with the Miami Association of Realtors (MAR) against mega Miami real estate agents Jill Hertzberg and Jill Eber for allegedly manipulating MLS data. They are known in the area as “The Jills” and are famous for successfully selling very high-end luxury real estate.
The case got complicated when Tomlinson allegedly tried to shake down the Jills for $800,000. According to criminal extortion charges filed against Tomlinson, he threatened to go public with the MLS data charges unless the Jills paid up. Miami police cited recorded phone calls as evidence in the case.
In August, he was charged with two counts of extortion, one count of resisting arrest and depriving an officer of means of protection. He has pleaded not guilty.
Tomlinson said MAR has handled his complaint professionally. MAR cannot comment on complaints and they are kept strictly confidential.
MAR was able to discuss how it deals with ethical and legal cases: “Any case involving ethics or arbitration which is at the time filed or later involved in a legal or criminal case or dispute must be held in abeyance until the legal case has been closed. Again, there are no exceptions.
“These cases cannot be discussed, they cannot be expedited, nothing can happen to these cases as long as there are legal or criminal cases pending. At such time as the legal or criminal cases are closed, any case filed for MLS Rules or Ethics Violations will at that time proceed and the time held in abeyance shall not be counted.
“Every member is required to follow the MLS Rules and Regulations of the Miami Association of Realtors and Code of Ethics of the National Association of Realtors. When issues are brought to our attention, all members are required to respond and correct errors and no one is exempt from this no matter who they are. Violations must cease immediately and any complaints filed regarding past violations will be dealt with according to the strict policy of the National Association of Realtors as adopted by the Miami Association of Realtors and again, there are no exceptions. All cases filed are confidential and cannot be commented on.”
437 people, mostly local agents, have signed a Change.org petition that pushes MAR to take action against the Jills. The petition states:
“We the undersigned Realtors and active due paying members of the Miami Board of Realtors demand that our Board of Realtors ensures us that all bylaws, rules, regulations and other governance provisions complying with all the mandatory multiple listing policies of the National Association of Realtors are upheld and enforced against ‘The Jills’ for the violation of the rights and privileges afforded to all the members of the MLS.
“We the undersigned Realtors hereby demand the Miami Board of Realtors take immediate and effective disciplinary actions of the highest severity against ‘The Jills’ and any other offender for intentional violation and manipulation of the MLS. We hereby demand the immediate enforcement of The Miami Association of Realtors Inc. Multiple Listing System 2014, Policies and Procedures, section 9.4.1 (g) termination of rights with no right to apply for 3 years.”
It is alleged that a majority of the Jills’ listings were altered prior to expiring, so that they would show as expired in the city of Allapattah. They effectively disappeared because brokers do not search for the history of Miami Beach luxury properties in the city of Allapattah.
A video is circulating explaining the charges of MLS data manipulation.
Here are some more links to stories about the case:
- Police: Miami Beach Realtor tried to extort powerful duo for $800,000
- Realtor accused of extortion is hired by luxury Miami Beach firm
- Secret tapes, blackmail threat: Luxe real-estate rivalry turns nasty in Miami