RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — The former chairman of the Riviera Beach Housing Authority is facing years in prison after he was arrested on a federal charge.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday that Delvin Thomas, 44, of West Palm Beach, faces one count of extortion after investigators said he used his chairman position to receive kickback payments from a real estate transaction.
While Thomas was the chairman of the Riviera Beach Housing Authority in about April 2019, the agency sought to purchase real estate in Riviera Beach for a low-income rental property.
The DOJ said Thomas introduced a real estate broker to the person at Riviera Beach Housing Authority responsible for purchasing the property. The Riviera Beach Housing Authority then entered into a contract with the broker to purchase the property.
Investigators said the broker was to receive a 3% commission from the property's purchase.
Once the contract to purchase the property was entered, Thomas told the broker that he was to receive 50% of the commission for its sale.
At closing, the broker's company was paid a commission of $18,930, according to the DOJ.
In order to hide the unlawful payment of Thomas' 50% share, federal authorities said Thomas contacted a straw party to act as a front for the transaction.
The DOJ said the straw party 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, according to investigators. This represented 50% of the commission received by the broker.
The DOJ said the checks falsely stated in the memo section that the payments were for "company branding" and "marketing services."
Officials said the front then issued two checks to Thomas' company, Sire Development Group LLC, in the amounts of $6,400 and $3,000, 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, authorities said.
Thomas faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a fine of $250,000.
He is scheduled to appear in court at the West Palm Beach Federal Courthouse at 10 a.m. Friday.