DeLand commissioner blackmailed over romantic relationship, deputies say

Suspect accused of texting victim, 'Pay me what I want u won't go to prison"

DeLAND, Fla. – A DeLand man is accused of blackmailing a city commissioner over a romantic relationship he had and trying to extort him out of $20,000, according to the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said DeLand City Commissioner Jeff Hunter had paid a 24-year-old DeLand woman $15,000 for various medical treatments during the course of their romantic relationship, but then later found out she used the money for a vehicle and gave some to her on-again, off-again boyfriend Jose Santiago, 24.

When Hunter found out how the woman had actually spent the money, Santiago began threatening him and his family and the woman faked her own death to avoid repaying him, the report said.

Santiago is accused of texting Hunter that he had "dirt and info" that would "have (Hunter) arrested for a very long time."

Deputies said Santiago would have the woman involved in the romantic relationship accuse Hunter of rape if Hunter didn't pay Santiago.

“If u listen to me and pay me what I want u won’t go to prison,” Santiago texted Hunter on Aug. 11, according to authorities. “20 grand it all goes away.”

Santiago was arrested Monday afternoon at Space Coast Credit Union, where Hunter had agreed to meet him to pay $12,000, a news release said.


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