The Florida Department of Law Enforcement charged 4 men with attempting to extort victims for millions of dollars with false claims about soil contamination. Two of the men had previously owned the Broward County property. Officials allege the men sent letters to the current property owner and county officials claiming dangerous levels of soil contamination.
The FDLE commissioner said the men were trying to destroy the landowner’s reputation and business. The two previous owners charged defaulted on a loan for the land eleven years ago. The extortion allegedly included the threat of a lawsuit that would “go away” for $3 million. According to a Fort Lauderdale extortion lawyer, the criminal charge is possible if someone demands something of value, often money, in exchange for avoiding actions that cause the victim “criminal duress”.
Anyone charged with such serious offenses should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Broward Criminal Attorney Kenneth Hassett explains another way such charges come about. If a person threatens to tell a secret or reveal a fact about someone unless paid money not to reveal it, the government may charge them with extortion.
Facing multiple counts of extortion and fraud, the two former landowners were being held on a $10.5 million bond. The other two men allegedly aided in the scheme. They were each charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering. Criminal defense lawyer Hassett’s website points out people convicted of racketeering may be subject to criminal forfeiture. This means prosecutors can seek to take away property, including businesses and homes. Broward County and Miami Dade County prosecutors often seek forfeiture to punish the defendant.
The alleged crimes involve business dealing that stretch back over a decade. The FDLE and the Office of Statewide Prosecution worked on the case against the four. The FDLE says it took only six weeks to collect the evidence needed to make the arrests. The real-estate developer targeted by the blackmail campaign alerted authorities.
Broward Criminal Attorney Kenneth Hassett is an experienced Fort Lauderdale extortion lawyer with 26 years of experience. When charged with serious criminal offenses, like those of these four men, the government will assign a prosecutor that concentrates on that type of crime. It is an advantage to have a criminal defense attorney that has the same level of expertise.
If you or someone you know has been in a similar legal situation contact Hassett & Associates, P.A. at 954-791-3939.