Kevin Tomlinson’s extortion trial tied to the Jills unfolds in a Miami courtroom

Tomlinson pleaded not guilty in 2015 to four felony counts, including two extortion charges

TRD MIAMI /
Jun.June 20, 2018 05:30 PM


Jill Eber and Kevin Tomlinson in court on Wednesday (Credit: Katherine Kallergis)

Kevin Tomlinson and the Jills are battling it out this week in a Miami courtroom, as Tomlinson faces four felony charges, including two counts of extortion related to the luxury real estate agents and their alleged manipulation of the Multiple Listing Service.

More than three years after Tomlinson filed a complaint with the Miami Association of Realtors against Miami’s top real estate team, Jill Eber presented her side of the dramatic story on Wednesday tied to the listings of multimillion-dollar properties.

It began in April 2015, when Tomlinson, a luxury real estate agent in Miami Beach, filed a complaint with the Realtors’ association against Eber and her business partner, Jill Hertzberg, claiming they altered MLS data on 51 of their properties – an alleged violation of the association’s code of ethics – to hide how long some listings had been on the market. Complaints filed with the association are confidential.

Months later, Tomlinson reached out to Hertzberg, allegedly demanding $250,000 from each of them. While Eber was on vacation in the Turks and Caicos, she said, Hertzberg called her with Tomlinson. “Kevin started out saying ‘I’m not a bad guy. Teresa King Kinney, head of the [Miami Association of Realtors] board, said if you can work this out with the Jills and dismiss the complaint, the charges go away,’” Eber claimed.

The Jills went to the police and eventually recorded conversations with Tomlinson where he allegedly demanded up to $800,000 to keep quiet. “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.

In August 2015, he was charged with two felony counts of extortion, resisting arrest and depriving an officer of means of protection. He pleaded not guilty.

During the trial on Wednesday, Eber said her team handles the MLS and she wasn’t aware that one of her employees was doing anything unethical. She said she did not remember who gave her the administrative codes used to manipulate certain fields in the MLS that changed the days on market for listings that were on the “hot sheet.”

“I’m not tech savvy at all. In my career in real estate, I’ve never pulled up anything on the MLS,” Eber said in Miami-Dade County court on Wednesday. “I ask any one of my employees to help me. The only thing I know how to do are emails, texts and sometimes I’ll put something on Instagram.”

Fifty-one properties were manipulated, and 73 listings were left to expire at the time. “I thought that … it was just simply taken off the hot sheet for that day. I had no idea what happened after that,” Eber said.

In a June 2015 response to Tomlinson’s complaint, Eber said that she and Hertzberg took full responsibility for her employee’s actions. “We didn’t think it was wrong. We should have known what was going on.”

In March 2016 the Miami Association of Realtors increased fines for manipulating listings to $5,000 per violation.

After the fact, she said, “I understood it. I understood it completely. Both Jill and I felt terrible at the time.”

Hertzberg testified on Tuesday, the opening day of the trial, and the proceedings are expected to wrap up later this week.


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
Howard Lorber and 1525 North View Drive

Howard Lorber buys waterfront Sunset Islands home for $12M

Howard Lorber buys waterfront Sunset Islands home for $12M
Gables Town Colony apartment complex, Sue Ansel of Gables Residential

Gables Residential scores $85M loan for Boca Raton apartment complex

Gables Residential scores $85M loan for Boca Raton apartment complex
Julian Cohen and a rendering of the project

Felix and Julian Cohen propose waterfront spec mansion on North Bay Road

Felix and Julian Cohen propose waterfront spec mansion on North Bay Road
The Indian Creek lot and Julio Iglesias (Credit: Getty Images)

Singer songwriter Julio Iglesias relists Indian Creek lot for $32M

Singer songwriter Julio Iglesias relists Indian Creek lot for $32M
From left: Nelson Gonzalez, Danny Hertzberg, Julian Johnston and Ben Moss

“The biggest week of the year”: Luxury brokers eye potential buyers in town for Super Bowl

“The biggest week of the year”: Luxury brokers eye potential buyers in town for Super Bowl
Broadstone City Center with Alliance Residential’s Bruce Ward and Nuveen CEO Jose Minaya

Nuveen pays $103M for West Palm luxury apartments

Nuveen pays $103M for West Palm luxury apartments
From left: Jill Hertzberg and 1633 North View Drive, and Dr. Arthur Agatston and Sari Agatston (Credit: Getty Images)

South Beach Diet founder sheds Sunset Island home

South Beach Diet founder sheds Sunset Island home
Edmund Ansin and the property (Credit: Google Maps)

Billionaire TV family sells Miramar property to Florida Crystals

Billionaire TV family sells Miramar property to Florida Crystals
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...