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Tamarac City Manager Michael Cernech Arrested for Role in Extorting More Than $3 Million from Florida Developer

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.

"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. 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," Attorney General Ashley Moody said.

"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," said FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen.

Officials said Cernech's 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.

Authorities said that text messages between Cernech and the Chaits confirm Cernech's 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.

Cernech's bond is set at $200,000.

On Friday evening Larry Davis, attorney for Cernech, released the following statement:

"Any of Mike Cernech's 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."

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