Office of Public Affairs & Media Relations
DELAND MAN CHARGED WITH EXTORTION IN ATTEMPT TO BLACKMAIL CITY COMMISSIONER
A DeLand man who attempted to blackmail a DeLand city commissioner was arrested Monday afternoon after an investigation by Volusia County sheriff’s detectives.
Jose A. Santiago, 24 (DOB 2/28/1993), was arrested around 2 p.m. outside a Space Coast Credit Union in DeLand, where he had agreed to meet DeLand City Commissioner Jeff Hunter and collect $12,000 in cash from him.
The Sheriff’s Office investigation began after Hunter reported the case Oct. 19. The commissioner told detectives he was defrauded by a 24-year-old DeLand woman with whom he had been involved in a romantic relationship. Hunter reported he had paid the woman about $15,000 for medical treatments he came to believe never actually occurred. Instead, Hunter said, some of the money went toward a vehicle, and some went to the woman’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, Santiago. Hunter said the woman even faked her own death in an attempt to avoid repaying him.
When Hunter confronted the woman about the money, he said Santiago began threatening him and his family, and demanded additional money under threat of giving police evidence of a crime. Santiago told Hunter he had “dirt and info” that would “have u arrested for a very long time,” according to text messages reviewed by VCSO detectives.
“If u listen to me and pay me what I want u won’t go to prison,” read a text message from Santiago to Hunter on Aug. 11. “20 grand it all goes away.”
Detectives continue to investigate the case, and additional charges are possible.
Administrative offices: West Volusia 386-736-5961 Daytona Beach 386-254-4689 New Smyrna Beach 386-423-3352
Non-emergency dispatch numbers: DeLand 386-943-8276 Daytona Beach 386-239-8276 New Smyrna Beach 386-409-8276 Osteen 407-323-0151