Former Chairman of Riviera Beach Housing Authority Charged with Extortion for Kickback Payments
MIAMI – Delvin Thomas, 44, of West Palm Beach, Fla., has been charged with one count of extortion after using his chairman position to receive a kickback from a real-estate transaction.
Around April 2019, Thomas was the chairman of the Riviera Beach Housing Authority, during which time the authority sought to purchase real-estate located in Riviera Beach for a low-income rental property. Thomas introduced a real estate broker to the person at Riviera Beach Housing Authority responsible for purchasing the property and Riviera Beach Housing Authority entered into a contract with the broker to purchase the property.
The broker was to receive a three percent commission from the property’s purchase. Once the contract to purchase the property was entered, Thomas told the broker that he, Thomas, was to receive 50 percent of the commission for its sale. At closing, the broker’s company was paid a commission of $18,930. In order to hide the unlawful payment of Thomas’ 50 percent share, Thomas contacted a straw party to act as a front for this illicit activity.
The straw party (or front) agreed to deposit two checks issued to the front’s business bank account and then issue checks from said account to Sire Development Group LLC, a company Thomas owned. Two checks in the amounts of $6,400 and $3,065 were issued to the front’s company account. This represented 50 percent of the commission received by the broker. The checks falsely stated in the memo section that the payments were for “company branding” and “marketing services.” The front then issued two checks to Thomas’ company, Sire Development Group LLC, in the amounts of $6,400 and $3,000—falsely stating in the check’s memo section that the payments were for “consulting services.”
The checks issued by the broker’s company and the straw party’s company each were drawn on accounts of a national bank and affected interstate commerce. Thomas faces a statutory maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of $250,000. His first appearance at the West Palm Beach Federal Courthouse is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 21, at 10 a.m.
Juan Antonio Gonzalez, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and acting Special Agent in Charge Robert M. Dewitt, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
The FBI investigated this matter. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey N. Kaplan.