The drama has now wrapped up in a high-profile legal drama between real estate broker big-wigs Kevin Tomlinson of ONE Sotheby's International Realty vs. The Jills of Coldwell Banker, led by Jill Eber and Jill Hertzberg. While the legal proceedings have wrapped up, this is a case where there are no winners. Tomlinson was sentenced in August 2018 to an extended period of probation and has been banned from the real estate industry after being convicted on 2 counts of extortion. Tomlinson had threatened to expose The Jills for manipulation of Multiple Listing Service (MLS) property sales data unless they paid him $800,000 to keep quiet. Tomlinson will now endure 2 years of probation with an ankle monitor followed by an additional 15 years of probation. Tomlinson had faced 30 years in jail for his actions.
In the Tomlinson vs. The Jills case, The Jills took full responsibility for the manipulation, pinning the actions on a rogue employee, Juan Carlos Otoya, and claiming that they were unaware and don't use the MLS. The Jills had manipulated listings on the MLS 552 times between 2011 and 2015, erasing 23,740 days on market from the firm's listings sales velocity on over $372 million worth of property. Tomlinson had filed a complaint with the Miami Association of Realtors in regards to The Jill's inflated sales data. Despite the admission, neither Otoya nor The Jills have been punished or further investigated and it is believed that the drama behind the Tomlinson extortion case has overshadowed the MLS manipulation complaint.
Unexplored in the court proceedings, should The Jills have known of the manipulation, using the manipulated data to secure listings could constitute as fraud, defined "as the the wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain." While the manipulation of MLS data can make a realtor look good to prospective clients, both buyers and sellers alike, the manipulation of MLS data can also effect everything down the line in the real estate industry such as home appraisal value, mortgages, and the accuracy of comparable sales data, which can be used from everything previously mentioned to an buyer's fair ability to make the proper choice of property and offer price based on data backed to be accurate. Additionally, their statements under oath that they were unaware of the manipulation could constitute perjury should they have made any references to the manipulated data previously during either showing, listing appointment or negotiation. There is currently no investigation made public into the matter.