On Thursday, May 10, 2012, Polk County Sheriff's detectives arrested 33-year-old John Robert Browning, DOB 12/20/1978, of 4000 Shady Hammock Drive in Mulberry, after he attempted to get the Mosaic Corporation to pay him thousands of dollars for a digital media card he claimed had incriminating photos on it.
According to the affidavit, on May 7th Browning called the Mosaic office located at 13830 Circa Crossing Drive in Lithia and spoke to a legal secretary. He told the secretary that he found a broken camera that had a media card in it with "1,137 pictures of Mosaic property with chemical spills and damaged property, that could cause damage to their reputation if the wrong entity possessed them," and that he wanted a finder's fee to turn the card over.
Hamp Plowden, security superintendent for Mosaic, who is also a former full-time PCSO deputy sheriff and current Reserve Deputy Sheriff, called Browning and spoke with him two more times. Browning asked Plowden for a "finder's fee" for the photos. Browning stated several times, "I am in this for the money."
Plowden reported the incident to PCSO, and together Plowden and detectives called Browning a third time. When Browning was asked what he thought the "finder's fee" should be, Browning asked for $10,000. Working with PCSO detectives, Plowden offered Browning $2,500 for the digital media card. Browning agreed to the amount, and agreed to sign a legal document stating he would not speak of the incident to anyone after the transaction was made.
When Browning arrived at the scheduled meeting place, he was arrested without incident on one count Extortion (F-2) and booked into the Polk County Jail.
Upon his arrest, Browning had in his possession a digital media card (which does not contain 1,137 photos of chemical spills or damaged property), and notes he had taken with details of the meeting and the amount of money he was to receive.