DELAND, Fla. - A 24-year-old man accused of trying to blackmail a DeLand city commissioner was arrested Monday outside a credit union while waiting for a handoff, officials with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said.
Jose A. Santiago is accused of trying to force DeLand Commissioner Jeff Hunter into giving him $12,000 in cash after a romantic relationship Hunter had during October with a 24-year-old woman, investigators said.
Hunter reported the case on Oct. 19, saying the 24-year-old woman had defrauded him out of $15,000, which he believed was to be used for a medical procedure, Sheriff’s Office officials said.
Hunter alleged that the woman instead used the money to purchase a vehicle and gave some to her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Santiago, deputies said.
The woman allegedly went so far as to fake her own death to avoid paying Hunter back, Sheriff’s Office officials said.
When Hunter confronted the woman about the money, he claimed that Santiago “began threatening him and his family, and demanded additional money under threat of giving police evidence of a crime,” a Sheriff’s Office statement said.
Santiago is accused of sending Hunter a text message saying that he needed to “pay me what I want (and you) don’t go to prison,” the statement said. “$20,000 (and) it all goes away.”
Santiago was allegedly waiting outside a Space Coast Credit Union in DeLand to meet with Hunter to pick up $12,000 in cash when he was arrested, deputies said.
Officials with the city of DeLand declined to comment on the incident involving Hunter.
VCSO deputies arrest man accused of blackmailing a DeLand City Commissioner— Mike Springer WFTV (@mspringerwftv) December 18, 2017
Deputies say Jose Santiago tried to extort money from Commissioner Jeff Hunter. Santiago is the on again/ off again bf of a woman deputies say Hunter was romantically involved with. Hunter paid $15k for the woman’s medical treatments Hunter says weren’t done— Mike Springer WFTV (@mspringerwftv) December 18, 2017
Hunter says when he confronted the woman about the money he gave her, Santiago began threatening him and allegedly told Hunter he has dirt on him and would have Hunter arrested unless he got more money— Mike Springer WFTV (@mspringerwftv) December 18, 2017
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