Home / Entertainment / How a Real-Estate Scuffle Turned into a True Tale of Miami Vice

How a Real-Estate Scuffle Turned into a True Tale of Miami Vice

The two girls are dressed in black, which is unusual for them. They’re generally wearing sunny colours, ushering their purchasers into Miami’s multi-million-dollar mansions of glory. Their colourful wardrobes and mile-wide smiles befit the No. 1 crew in Miami genuine property, agents who’ve bought a staggering $three.Four billion price of houses since 2005, making them essentially the most a hit residential brokers within the nationwide Coldwell Banker community: Jill Hertzberg and Jill Eber, higher recognized to pals and foes alike because the Jills.

Today, despite the fact that, they put on critical instructor’s spectacles and expressions as darkish as their apparel as they stand in a dreary Miami court and try to convince a pass judgement on to ship a rival dealer, Kevin Tomlinson, to jail for extortion.

Tomlinson “had the evidence on the Jills,” as he likes to mention—evidence of systematic marketplace manipulation, a scheme that he and different Miami agents declare they used to cheat competition and purchasers alike. By tampering with the nationwide automated database that gives detailed knowledge on each and every area available on the market, they concealed expired listings from their competitors and misled doable consumers in regards to the worth of their houses. Tomlinson detailed his allegations in a 500-page report back to the Miami Association of Realtors—a transfer that many agents was hoping would value the Jills their licenses and maybe even power them out of the cutthroat global of Miami genuine property.

Instead, the Jills have now not simplest kept away from any disciplinary or prison motion, they if truth be told grew to become the tables on Tomlinson, putting him on the defendant’s desk. He sits there now, dressed in a blue recreation coat and a scowl, going through as much as 30 years in jail. The Jills, as all the time, are doing the speaking, urging the pass judgement on to throw the e book at Tomlinson.

“Kevin Tomlinson maliciously plotted, calculated, planned, and targeted not only me, but my partner,” says Hertzberg, the taller and extra analytical Jill. “He threatened to destroy all of us, including my son and daughter, who are in the business with me, for one reason and only one reason: greed.”

Eber, the petite and extra impulsive Jill, testifies subsequent. “Besides losing my mother and my father, this has been the most horrible experience in my life,” she tells the courtroom. “Kevin plotted and planned this for months. He actually made extorting the Jills his business plan.”

Judge Milton Hirsch starts his sentencing with a quote from Othello. “Who steals my purse steals trash,” he recites. “But who filches from me my good name, robs me of that which enriches him, and makes me poor indeed.”

He stares out into the crowded court.

“This case is about reputation,” he publicizes.

It may be about realtor as opposed to realtor, secret recordings and a police raid, threats and tears. Most of all, it’s about what one business insider calls “a self-serving, greedy cesspool of unethical behavior,” all set in opposition to some of the sector’s most costly residential genuine property.

It starts, as maximum real-estate tales do, with a area. Only this area had disappeared.

They are the real-estate stars of each and every town, those who transfer the costliest and sought-after houses and condos and mansions. They’re bubbling at the outdoor, ruthless deal-makers at the inside of. Real property has lengthy been one of the few professions the place girls can beat their male competitors on a somewhat degree taking part in box, turning into native celebrities whilst racking up thousands and thousands in commissions. In Miami, the Jills are all over the place: on their aqua blue For Sale indicators and their flashy TV ads, advertising houses for town’s richest and maximum glamorous citizens. Last yr, Secret Lives of the Super Rich adopted the companions as they traveled through helicopter, barge, and pontoon boat to turn a $150 million belongings owned through their consumer, the singer Julio Iglesias.

“It’s an amazing thing that Jill and I found each other,” Jill Eber says in a promotional video. An aspiring actor and singer, Eber went to real-estate faculty after she misplaced her voice for a number of months. Hertzberg was once a full-time mom on the lookout for a occupation with versatile hours. They met at Framer Realty, the place they shared an assistant, and shortly determined to crew up. In the mid-1990s, they had been snapped up through Wimbish Riteway, whose purchasers integrated Madonna, Versace, Sylvester Stallone, Rosie O’Donnell, the Bee Gees, and different celebrities who had been flocking to Miami Beach. The Jills “had a reputation for being good producers,” says Alan Jacobson, their boss on the time. “They were bubbly, terrific, extremely diligent. They worked and worked and worked.”

In genuine property, title reputation is the entirety. “Most sellers, especially in the higher price points, will call two or three realtors they have heard of,” says Jacobson. So his corporate discovered a technique to flip Eber and Hertzberg into real-estate gold. “You’re both named Jill,” the selling division advised them. “So call yourself the Jills—more people will remember the name.” To this, they added the slogan that now seems on their ubiquitous For Sale indicators: “The Power of Two.”

An actual-estate juggernaut was once born. “Jill Eger and Jill Hertzberg are two equally shrewd and equally blond business women who look like they met on the first day of sorority rush, realized they were both blond and both named Jill, screamed with delight, promised to be BFFs forever, and went on to get matching MBAs to go along with their matching husbands, matching cars and matching hair,” reported the real-estate Web website Curbed. “Arm in arm, they fought their way to the top of the Miami real-estate market.”

The girls would possibly come throughout like sisters, however they’re a ways from twins. “Jill Hertzberg is more circumspect, while Jill Eber is just a ball of energy,” says their lawyer, Jackie Arango. A aggressive golfer, Hertzberg needed to be talked into taking one morning off a week to play—however nonetheless hides at the back of a tree to take real-estate calls at the route. Equally pushed, Eber is “the Energizer Bunny, this little Munchkin, five feet tall, like a size zero, a petite little gal who is totally self-made,” says a buddy. Their star-studded gross sales have integrated Shaquille O’Neal ($16 million), Matt Damon ($15 million), and the Gianni Versace mansion ($42 million).

“People equate the Jills with luxury,” Eber says in a single promotional video.

“We’re the best of the best,” provides Hertzberg.

Being on the most sensible comes at a value. “Rival Miami brokers who have worked with the Jills called them ‘super aggressive,’ ‘obnoxious,’ ‘condescending’ and ‘difficult to work with,’” The New York Observer reported in 2014. “They are the Coke and Pepsi of South Florida real estate,” sniped one dealer who requested to stay nameless. “They act like their brand brings something special to the table, and that is just bullshit.”

Some insist such sniping is not anything greater than skilled jealousy directed at two girls who labored their manner up thru sheer tenacity. One day Hertzberg arrived at a $7.7 million mansion on Biscayne Bay, simplest to find that the landlord had already given the checklist to every other agent. “Hertzberg insisted on speaking to the woman’s husband and marched inside,” The Wall Street Journal recounted. The house owners temporarily modified their minds and gave Hertzberg an unique at the checklist. “In a matter of minutes, she convinced me that she knew more about my house than I did,” the bewildered proprietor mentioned.

“This business is not such a ladylike business,” Hertzberg admitted in a tv interview. “There’s lions and tigers and bears out there.”

As the Jills grew extra a hit, different agents saved a shut eye on their purchasers. Whenever their listings expired, competition would bombard the house owners with telephone calls, hoping to signal them up. One day an irate buyer known as to bitch. “I don’t remember which Jill, but one of the Jills was on the phone with a client,” Juan Carlos Otoya, their longtime assistant, mentioned in a deposition. The proprietor’s house had proven up at the “Hot Sheet,” the day by day document through the Miami Association of Realtors that spells out which listings had expired the night time earlier than—a crimson alert for rival brokers to start out calling. The Jills “wanted it not to happen anymore,” recalled Otoya.

“There is a way to do it,” he advised the Jill who took the decision. “We can change just a few fields.”

Otoya may make it tough for rival agents to seek out the Jills’ expired listings, just by manipulating knowledge at the automated checklist bureaucracy. For starters, he may position areas within the addresses of the houses at the Multiple Listing Service, the nationwide real-estate database. “The Jills really don’t understand how the M.L.S. works,” he testified. “They don’t use the computer. They always call me.”

Real property “is not such a ladylike business,” mentioned one of the Jills. “There’s lions and tigers and bears out there.”

“Did the Jill, whichever one it was, tell you then to go ahead and keep the property off the Hot Sheet?” he was once requested.

“Yes,” he mentioned.

So Otoya went to paintings to recreation the pc device. He altered side road addresses and altered the towns for expired listings so that they wouldn’t display up at the Hot Sheet. He additionally modified the Zip Codes on high-end houses in Miami Beach, sending them to what some name “the ghetto”—a middle-class Miami suburb of peculiar properties that luxurious agents don’t even hassle to go looking.

The impact was once quick. “I was looking for a house and I couldn’t find it,” recollects Esther Percal, a veteran Miami Beach dealer. The proprietor of a house on North Bay Road, a expensive enclave, had invited her to be his agent. But when she checked the M.L.S.—”the Bible of our occupation”—she couldn’t in finding the associated fee of the house.

“I went to the house, looking like an idiot,” Percal says. “I told the seller, ‘I can’t find your listing.’ He said, ‘Esther, just sell the goddamned house.’ But I obsessed on it.”

After extra digging, Percal was once in spite of everything in a position to get admission to the checklist sheet, which confirmed why the home had disappeared: somebody had put areas between the letters of the cope with, rendering the checklist unsearchable. “The property was spelled North space B space A-Y space Road,” she says. It didn’t take a detective, she provides, to determine who had finished it.

“The listing agents were the Jills,” she says.

This was once greater than a moral breach. While now not unlawful, changing the database gave the Jills an unfair marketplace benefit—an act that, beneath the principles of the Miami Association of Realtors, may well be punished with a three-year suspension and as much as $15,000 in fines.

Percal advised everyone she may in regards to the altered cope with. But within the mad rush to promote properties in Miami Beach, she let the subject drop. “Over the years, people have gotten more unethical, greedier, screwing each other, stealing clients,” she says. “It’s horrible, and it’s getting worse. It’s the wild, wild South.”

Another agent, on the other hand, wasn’t prepared to forget about the scheme. He had what he calls “a friendly competition” with the Jills for years, and was once as decided as they had been to make it to the highest of the Miami real-estate marketplace. In a formal criticism to the Miami Association of Realtors, filed on April 13, 2015, he charged that the Jills had “manipulated data for their benefit at the expense of other members and the public for four years.”

With that, Kevin Tomlinson began a battle that he wasn’t ready to win.

“Kevin from Cleveland,” he tells me once we meet at a Miami Beach resort, the night time earlier than his sentencing. The “lower middle class” son of a dock-worker father and a mom who labored for UPS, Tomlinson arrived in Miami in 1992 to pursue a occupation in modeling. At first he labored as a bartender at Liquid, the nightclub that outlined South Beach all the way through that decadent technology, earlier than discovering a occupation that mixed the entirety he beloved: gorgeous other people, gorgeous puts, and lovely cash. At age 27, he changed into a real-estate agent. He drove an Infiniti SUV, frolicked with long term celebrities like Ellen Pompeo and Sofía Vergara, and changed into one of the primary agents to make use of the Internet as a advertising device.

“He came in very hungry,” says Percal, one of his early mentors. “Amazing in his focus and hard work. He wanted to make it.” After years of hustle, Tomlinson started hauling in seven-figure commissions. “If you are on your game and know your shit, it is easy as hell and fun as fuck,” he says.

Like maximum luxurious agents in Miami, Tomlinson crossed paths with the Jills. “I never had a taste for Jill Eber,” he says, having as soon as chastised her for contacting one of his purchasers. But he and Jill Hertzberg had what he calls a “flirty relationship.” On January 1, 2015, Tomlinson texted Hertzberg about viewing a belongings she had indexed for $Four.five million.

“What is best for you handsome?” she answered. “I don’t want you to wait one second, My Lord.”

“Oh ur adorbs,” he answered. “I adore working w u. A pro! U deserve all ur success. And . . . spend that money! Can’t take it w you.”

By that time, on the other hand, Tomlinson had already begun to suspect that the Jills had been rigging the real-estate database. The day earlier than, on New Year’s Eve, he have been contacted through every other celebrity agent at Coldwell Banker. The company’s Miami administrative center was once a hotbed of festival the place 150 brokers, together with the Jills and their 10-person group of workers, squared off in a blood recreation for consumers and dealers. “Kevin, you’re the tech guy,” the agent advised Tomlinson, handing him a purple Post-It notice with the cope with of a $2.three million house in an unique golf-course group. “I know the Jills had this listing for over four years, but we can’t find it anywhere on the M.L.S. Can you help me?”

“I don’t go out on New Year’s,” says Tomlinson, a teetotaler. So he took the suspect cope with house to his penthouse apartment, lit candles, poured himself an iced tea, and sat down at his pc. The night time stretched on. He heard the fireworks explode and watched the solar upward thrust into 2015. But the most important firecracker was once on his visual display unit: the $2.three million checklist gave the impression to have vanished from the M.L.S. “I was trying all these ways of searching for the property, but it wouldn’t come up,” he says. “I ended up searching via the Jills’ license number.”

By the time the brand new yr had dawned, Tomlinson had discovered what the Jills had been as much as. Someone had put areas within the cope with of the checklist, and moved it to “the ghetto.” The knowledge manipulations had made the home disappear from the M.L.S. for 1,228 days. The Jills didn’t have to fret about somebody poaching the checklist, as a result of there was once no technique to in finding it. “It gave them an unfair advantage,” Tomlinson says.

Suddenly, Kevin from Cleveland had a new challenge. “Once he discovered this impropriety, he became obsessed with finding out all the different instances of it,” says his buddy and fellow dealer Beth Butler. Tomlinson investigated for 4 months. Homes, he knew, are like fruit: they’re most enticing when contemporary. The business time period is “shopworn.” It’s “when your property has been seen by so many realtors and so many people that nobody else wants to see it,” testified Robert Sadler, the manager compliance officer for the Miami Association of Realtors. As Tomlinson dug deeper, he came upon that the Jills—or somebody of their administrative center—had made 552 knowledge manipulations on 51 of their listings to erase a cumulative 23,740 days that the houses had long past unsold. The transfer allowed the Jills to “keep control of their expired listings,” Tomlinson later wrote, and earn “an extra $3 million in commissions.”

The hidden days additionally intended that some unsuspecting consumers can have bought properties according to manipulated knowledge. During the time the Jills had been changing the listings, their purchasers integrated J. Paul Getty’s granddaughter Christina, Obama legit Fred Hochberg, and model kingpin Tommy Hilfiger. Hilfiger’s area at 605 Ocean Boulevard on Golden Beach is a seven-bedroom, 14,075-square-foot mansion. After it didn’t promote at its preliminary checklist value of $18.five million, 8 knowledge manipulations made the home disappear from the M.L.S. for 375 days. The Jills then re-listed it for $21 million, earlier than promoting it to Hilfiger and his spouse for $17.25 million. The altered knowledge, says an agent aware of the sale, made it seem like Hilfiger was once getting a 20 p.c cut price.

At first, it gave the impression, no person sought after to the touch Tomlinson’s findings. Accusations of impropriety in opposition to Miami’s most sensible real-estate brokers, finally, may divulge the occupation’s grimy secrets and techniques. So Tomlinson determined to record a formal criticism with the realtors’ affiliation. The ensuing 500-page document, whole with charts and graphs, detailed what he later known as “the largest Code of Ethics violation case ever reported in the history of real estate.”

The document showed what many Miami real-estate brokers had lengthy suspected—that the Jills weren’t taking part in through the principles. More than 600 brokers signed a petition difficult that the Miami Association of Realtors “take immediate and effective disciplinary action of the highest severity against the Jills” for “intentional violation and manipulation of the M.L.S.” In April 2015, the affiliation opened complaint case #20150413-E-Four.

After Tomlinson attempted to extort the Jills, the focal point shifted from their knowledge hacking to the person within the mug shot.

The Jills confessed—type of. Both said that the knowledge manipulation happened. But they both claimed lack of awareness (“We didn’t think it was wrong,” Jill Eber testified) or blamed it on Otoya (“I don’t deal with M.L.S.,” Jill Hertzberg testified. “I have assistants who do that”). Nevertheless, in an legit reaction to the criticism, their lawyer mentioned they “accept responsibility for their failure to fully understand the consequences of their actions, for using poor judgment, and for what ultimately occurred.”

Other Miami agents scoff on the perception that Otoya acted on his personal. “I believe the Jills knew the listings were being hidden from other brokers,” says Julian Johnston, the landlord of Calibre International Realty. “They might have had a fall guy they blamed for how it was done, but they knew the status of certain listings was being changed to hide them from other realtors. The general feeling in the real-estate community was that this wasn’t fair, and they weren’t being held accountable.”

Things may have grew to become out otherwise if Tomlinson had merely waited for the realtors’ affiliation to rule on his findings. But 3 months after he filed his criticism, he says, he had a exchange of center. “I know this is going to get big,” he advised Beth Butler. “But it’s just not in my constitution. I’m going to try and work something out.”

At 11 A.M. on July 14, 2015, Tomlinson known as Jill Hertzberg. She was once at house when her telephone rang, she testified. “I’m surprised to see your name light up,” she advised Tomlinson.

“You know I’m not a monster,” she recalled Tomlinson replying. “I’m really sorry.” He advised her that different agents had “egged him on” to take down the Jills. “I’m not a dick,” he mentioned.

“If this is an apology,” Hertzberg scoffed, the criticism has “already been filed.”

“Listen, I thought about this. I can withdraw the complaint,” Tomlinson mentioned. He and Hertzberg organized a time to satisfy.

After the decision, Hertzberg didn’t even take into consideration her subsequent transfer. “I called Jill,” she testified. Eber suggested her to satisfy with Tomlinson and listen to what he needed to say.

Tomlinson’s pals, against this, anxious that he was once making a mistake. “Are you sure they’re not setting you up?” Butler requested him.

“No,” Tomlinson answered. “Of course not.”

Esther Percal put it much more succinctly. “I thought the Jills were going to fuck him,” she testified.

At 6:45 at the night of July 16, Tomlinson walked around the palm-studded garden of Hertzberg’s seven-bedroom house. She greeted him on the door, he recollects, dressed in “a little flouncy, flowery dress, cute little heels. Even though I’m a gay man, we kind of flirted.” According to Hertzberg, she escorted him into her bed room, the place they sat through her table. According to Tomlinson, she clicked off her Manolo Blahniks and lay throughout her mattress “on her stomach with her feet in the air.”

Tomlinson insists that what he mentioned subsequent constituted a industry deal: the Jills would stop their manipulations of the M.L.S., and he would drop his criticism. Then they might pass their separate techniques, a lot to the relaxation of everybody—particularly the Miami Association of Realtors. “It doesn’t look good” for the affiliation, Tomlinson later advised Hertzberg, that its knowledge “was so easily screwed with.”

Then, in what would become a legal transfer, Tomlinson added a caveat. He introduced to withdraw his criticism, he later defined, “if I was remunerated for my time and possible lost commissions from the 51 listings which were ‘hidden’ from the broker community.” He advised Hertzberg that he sought after $250,000 from every Jill.

As Hertzberg later recounted it, the trade was once way more menacing. “His face changed,” she testified. “His body changed. Everything changed. Because then Kevin leaned into me and said to me, ‘You know what, sister? This is about money.’ Money.” To make issues worse, she mentioned, Tomlinson threatened to wreck her occupation—and the ones of her kids—until the Jills met his call for. “It was the most dangerous moment of my life,” she recalled. “He told me very clearly that he gets paid, or that’s it.”

“This entire thing, this M.A.R. complaint, everything you did, you did this for money?” she requested him. “This is all about money? He said, ‘Yes, sister.’ Like, ‘You dumb shit.’”

Hertzberg mentioned she had to discuss with Jill Eber, who was once scuba-diving in Turks and Caicos. With Tomlinson nonetheless within the bed room, she known as Eber and put her on speakerphone. “He wanted $250,000 from each of us,” Eber testified. “I felt like somebody was, like, holding a knife to me, you know, or a gun and demanding money.” On the way in which out the door, in step with Hertzberg, Tomlinson reduced his call for to $200,000 in step with Jill.

If Tomlinson was once looking to extort the Jills, his subsequent movements had been mystifying. After the assembly, he says, he despatched an email to the realtors’ affiliation “telling them that we had an initial meeting of the minds” and asking “for guidance on next steps.” He additionally advised a outstanding Miami real-estate dealer about his plan. “The Jills had manipulated the M.L.S. for years and threw off the statistics for the entire real-estate market, and Kevin had them dead to rights,” the realtor tells me. “Then he called and said, ‘I think I can get some money for this.’ I said, ‘Kevin, why would you spend all this time doing all this research and then make it all go away with a little bit of money?’ He said, ‘Yes, you’re right.’ And then he did it anyway. I don’t know why, other than greed.”

Detective Wayne Holbrook, a 25-year veteran of the Miami Beach Police Department, had by no means heard of the Jills when he won a name from an F.B.I. particular agent on July 17. Two Miami Beach real-estate agents, the agent advised him, had been “being extorted for $400,000 or $500,000,” he recalled in a deposition. “I thought the best idea was either to do a controlled call or, better yet, a controlled meet,” Holbrook testified, which means police would file a dialog between Hertzberg and Tomlinson. “I advised her to let him speak, let him make any offers, let him say what he wants to do, whether he wants to withdraw the complaint for money.”

“I told them I was uncomfortable,” Hertzberg testified, “but I was going to do it.”

As the police listened in, Hertzberg spoke to Tomlinson two times at the telephone. But all the way through each calls, she was once not able to get him to copy his call for for cash. “Call my attorney tomorrow and just settle with him,” he advised her, including, “This conversation didn’t happen.”

It wasn’t till the 3rd name, on August five, that Hertzberg hit pay grime.

“What I want to do is just go back to the original offer, when you were walking out the door,” she advised him.

“O.K.,” Tomlinson answered. “So that would be the four?”

“Yes, exactly,” she mentioned.

“O.K.,” he mentioned.

“Two hundred each,” she clarified.

“O.K.,” mentioned Tomlinson. “So I will call you within the next hour.”

Now that the call for for cost was once on tape, the police had been in a position to make an arrest—once Tomlinson permitted the cash. The following day, when he arrived at Hertzberg’s area, her eating room was once stressed for sound, and two detectives had been posted upstairs. She had a take a look at in a position for $400,000—however Tomlinson refused to just accept it. Other agents, he advised Hertzberg, had been banding in combination to record a class-action lawsuit in opposition to the Jills. So now his value had doubled.

“O.K., 400 from you, 400 from Jill,” Tomlinson advised Hertzberg.

“Four hundred each?” she requested.

“Each,” he mentioned. “That’s a bargain,” he added. “And be glad that I’m the person.”

Since Tomlinson declined the take a look at, the police didn’t really feel at ease arresting him at the spot. “We needed to get an arrest warrant,” mentioned Holbrook.

Just earlier than middle of the night on August 7, Tomlinson was once mendacity in his king-size mattress in his penthouse apartment, gazing a rerun of his favourite display, The Golden Girls. He was once feeling just right about both resolving issues with the Jills or shifting ahead together with his criticism, which the board was once scheduled to listen to in seven days.

Then got here a knock at his door.

“I look out the peephole and somebody says, ‘Kevin, your Porsche has been broken into. I need you to come down here and identify the guy.’ I don’t see badges.”

The police take into accout issues otherwise. “Miami Beach police,” Holbrook introduced.

He heard the sound of “scuffling,” and a voice requested, “Who are you here for?”

“Kevin Tomlinson,” mentioned the detective.

“Kevin’s not here,” the voice answered.

“Kevin, I know it’s you. Open the door,” Holbrook demanded. “We have a warrant for your arrest.”

Then, in step with Holbrook, Tomlinson snapped. “Fuck Jill!” he screamed. Barreling their manner into the apartment, the police tackled the dealer, who fell to the ground, kicking his ft and screaming obscenities earlier than achieving for one of the officer’s weapons. “He’s grabbing your firearm!” Holbrook yelled.

Tomlinson insists he made no transfer to withstand arrest. His primary worry, he says, was once attempting to give protection to his tooth, which had glistened so brightly from such a lot of real-estate commercials, as he was once shoved face-first onto the ground. The police took him into custody, and his mug shot was once featured on Good Morning America.

For the Jills, the arrest did greater than finish the extortion. The criticism that Tomlinson had filed in opposition to them was once placed on cling, in step with Miami Association of Realtors laws, till the legal case in opposition to him is totally resolved. The focal point shifted from their manipulation of the M.L.S. to the person within the mug shot. But Tomlinson remained defiant. The Jills had been accountable of “greed and arrogance,” he posted on Facebook. “This was a bastardization of our legal system . . . Oh . . . I have cojones . . . big ones. You have to—to survive in Miami.”

Tomlinson, who had no prior file, was once charged with 4 legal counts: resisting arrest, depriving a police officer of his weapon, and two counts of extortion. At his trial ultimate July, the prosecutor said that Tomlinson had stuck the Jills manipulating the real-estate marketplace. “This is not a trial to determine whether Jill Hertzberg and Jill Eber violated the M.L.S. rules,” he advised the jury in his final argument. “They did. But you know something: saints don’t get extorted.”

Tomlinson’s lawyer argued that his consumer was once a “whistleblower” who was once simply looking to save you the Jills from being sued through disgruntled agents. “Classic resolution of a lawsuit before it’s filed,” he advised the jury. But the argument didn’t fly: after all, the jury returned with a unanimous verdict convicting Tomlinson on two counts of extortion.

Calling the extortion try “inept” and reminiscent of “the Keystone Cops,” the pass judgement on sentenced Tomlinson to 2 years of area arrest with an digital track and barred him from the real-estate business. Tomlinson plans to battle the ban. “I know of a cocaine dealer who got his license back within three months of getting out of prison,” he tells me after the sentencing, pulling up his pant leg to turn me his ankle bracelet.

Rival real-estate brokers, in the meantime, are nonetheless in an uproar over the Jills, venting their frustration on-line (MIAMI ASSN. OF REALTORS USES EXTORTION DRAMA TO SHROUD MASSIVE REAL ESTATE DATA SCANDAL, reads the headline of a fresh posting). “It’s an insult to the real-estate community that there have been no repercussions against the Jills for this highly publicized violation of our rules and ethics,” says one dealer. “It proves that no one’s watching, and anything goes.”

While the criticism in opposition to them remains to be pending, the Jills are doing one thing that’s tricky for any real-estate agent: ultimate silent. Their lawyer, Jackie Arango, says they’re taking the criticism “very seriously,” and denounces “an ongoing campaign to smear the Jills” through rival agents. Business, in the meantime, stays just right. In October, they indexed two high-rise flats, which their advertising fabrics advertise as “the pinnacle of upscale oceanfront living”—one for $29.five million, the opposite for $22.five million. Even despite the fact that they gamed the device on the expense of their fellow agents, it stays unclear whether or not they are going to ever be punished. For now, they’re again to their shiny smiles and dazzling colours, as sunnily competitive as ever. “They were guilty,” says one of their former purchasers. “But they got lucky.”

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