The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday rejected an appeal by a Miami Beach real-estate broker convicted of trying to extort two other brokers who had been accused of manipulating data in a listing service.
Justices unanimously upheld a decision by the 3rd District Court of Appeal in the case of Kevin Tomlinson, who was arrested in August 2015 on charges of trying to extort brokers Jill Hertzberg and Jill Eber.
Tomlinson had filed a complaint in April 2015 with the Miami Association of Realtors alleging Hertzberg and Eber were “preventing other brokers from courting their clients by manipulating data in a listing service” operated by the association, according to Thursday’s opinion, written by Justice John Couriel.
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Hertzberg and Eber took responsibility for altering data, but a grievance process continued, Couriel wrote.
Tomlinson was accused of seeking money from Hertzberg and Eber to end the grievance case and threatening a class-action lawsuit.
A jury found Tomlinson guilty of two counts of extortion. A key issue in the appeal was the definition of the word “maliciously” in a state extortion law.
The 3rd District Court of Appeal backed Tomlinson’s conviction, but its interpretation of “maliciously” conflicted with an earlier interpretation by the 5th District Court of Appeal in another case, Couriel wrote.
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The Supreme Court opinion parsed the meaning of the word and sided with the 3rd District’s interpretation — rejecting Tomlinson’s appeal.
A brief filed last year by Tomlinson’s attorney said he was sentenced to two years of house arrest followed by 15 years of probation.
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