A new facet has been revealed in the ongoing conflict between powerhouse real estate duo the Jills and luxe Realtor Kevin Tomlinson: Miami Beach Police have released secret audio recordings between the two parties.
In the conversations between Jill Hertzberg and Kevin Tomlinson, Tomlinson threatens to go public with claims that the Jills manipulated the MLS and to extort them for a combined $800,000.
In April, Tomlinson filed a complaint with the Miami Association of Realtors against Jill Hertzberg and Jill Eber, claiming that they altered MLS data to hide homes that had been on the market for long periods of time — citing 51 instances where the Jills had hidden homes.
According to the audio files, recorded by Miami Beach Police, Tomlinson said “I’m not saying you’re guilty. I have to clear my conscience and sort of do the right thing,” the Miami Herald reported.
Months later, Tomlinson met with Hertzberg to make the complaint disappear. Tomlinson said the complaint would vanish if both of them paid him $250,000. The Jills then went to the police, who then told Hertzberg to invite Tomlinson back with a $400,000 check. In the recordings, he upped his demands, asking for $800,000.
“I’d rather this be a blip on your career that no one needs to know about … I don’t want anything to get to the Wall Street Journal,” he said in the recordings.
On Aug. 8, officers took him into custody at his Meridian Lofts penthouse on Miami Beach. He was charged with two felony counts of extortion, resisting arrest and depriving an officer of means of protection, and has pleaded not guilty.
Later in August, Tomlinson , who is now a Realtor with Calibre International Realty, told The Real Deal that the arrest was “a distraction.” He said the listings that he claims the Jills altered had to be active because it’s “impossible to change data once it is expired.” His attorney echoed that statement, telling the Miami Herald that the Jills planned the arrest to discredit Tomlinson, who uncovered a “pattern and practice of wrongdoing that stretched over four years.”
Tomlinson had told TRD the Jills’ manipulations were to property identifiers, such as city, zip code and subdivision area so that the properties could not be found. “All the properties listed in the MLS that were manipulated by the Jills were actively for sale at the time, and the number is significant. In 2014 alone, 30 active listings were manipulated, amounting to more than $228 million. There was a total of 353 data manipulations for an average of 11.76 manipulations per listing, according to findings in the MLS records,” he continued.
Other Realtors in the community have supported Tomlinson since the incident, saying he revealed what many have thought for years. Esther Percal, a Realtor with EWM/Christie’s has questioned the arrest, saying that the Jills “broke the rules,” according to the Herald.
“They say they’re the best and they can bring the best prices, but they don’t have a magic wand. Their listings can expire like everybody else,” Percal said. [Miami Herald] — Katherine Kallergis