City manager accused of extorting over $3M from Florida developer
Tamarac, Florida – According to prosecutors, Tamarac City Manager Michael Cernech was arrested and charged in connection with his alleged role in attempting to extort $3.4 million from a Florida developer.
Cernech is accused of being a co-conspirator to father-and-son duo Bruce and Shawn Chait in the extortion scheme against 13th Floor Investments, doing business as SPL Holdings.
“The defendant conspired with convicted felons, using his position of authority to relay false information to the highest levels of city government to further this multimillion-dollar extortion scheme — disgraceful,” Attorney General Ashley Moody said in a news release.
The victim’s business has since developed the land for residential housing. Cernech — along with other alleged co-conspirators — is accused of harassing, extorting and threatening the victim over property acquired after the Chaits defaulted on a loan more than a decade ago.
According to prosecutors, Cernech helped the Chaits in pressuring the victim into paying $3.4 million by leaking false information to both the Tamarac Mayor and attorneys representing 13th Floor Investments.
“The victim, in this case, was constantly harassed and his business and livelihood threatened by the Chaits and their accomplice Michael Cernech. Their actions were both frightening and appalling. I appreciate the dedication of our FDLE agents in Miami and the Office of Statewide Prosecution in unraveling this brazen fraud,” Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen said.