MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The office of Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced Friday that Tamarac City Manager Michael Cernech has been charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering for his role in attempting to extort $3.4 million from 13th Floor Investments d/b/a SPL Holdings.
Officials said Cernech is an alleged co-conspirator to father-and-son duo Bruce and Shawn Chait in the extortion scheme.READ MORE: Adobe Analytics Finds Flight Bookings Fell 24% In August
âThe 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 schemeâdisgraceful. My Statewide Prosecutors, working with FDLE investigators, have exposed the corruption and now the defendant and his co-conspirators will have to answer for their crimes,â Attorney General Ashley Moody said.
âThe 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,â said FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen.
Officials said Cernechâs role in the conspiracy includes assisting 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.READ MORE: Vigil Held In Orlando For Missing Teen Miya Marcano After Day Of Searching
Authorities said that text messages between Cernech and the Chaits confirm Cernechâs role in the conspiracy. After Cernech put further pressure on the victim, the Chaits complimented him for his actions by referring to Cernech as a total game changer, amazing and a magician.
Cernechâs bond is set at $200,000.
On Friday evening Larry Davis, attorney for Cernech, released the following statement:MORE NEWS: ‘Can't Let Her Name Be Taken In Vain’: Gabby Petito's Family Speaks Out Publicly For First Time As Search Continues For Brian Laundrie
âAny of Mike Cernechâs efforts involving the Chaits or 13th Floor were done in the best interest of the City of Tamarac, and not to benefit himself or anyone else.â