A Winter Haven man was arrested on Dec. 16, after he was accused of hacking into the Polk State College database.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested 38-year-old Brandon James Diaz for hacking into the college’s student labs and scheduling database and for possession of child pornography.
According to a Sheriff’s Office report, in June of 2021, a program coordinator and an instructor of the EMS course program at the college began having difficulty signing into their labs and scheduling accounts. When they were resetting their passwords, they discovered their password recovery hints had been changed to "Sell Out' or "Ha Ha Ha Loser," the report stated.
Detectives identified the suspect as Diaz, who was fired as a clinical coordinator from the Polk State College EMS program in April of 2021, after he was terminated from Lakeland Regional Health due to a failed drug test. He had also been employed as a Polk County firefighter/paramedic for 11 years before his termination in 2015 due to unprofessional conduct.
Between 2015 and 2017 Diaz was employed with Poinciana Medical Center as a nurse.
During an interview with Diaz, he admitted to accessing the college database from his personal computer. He told detectives he altered the passwords of the program coordinator and instructor because he blamed them for his termination, the report stated. He also admitted to altering the administrative rights of the other accounts in the database. A total of 10 accounts were tampered with.
During the investigation, detectives did not find any evidence of personal identity information being stolen.
Detectives served a search warrant at Diaz's residence and seized his computer where they found 75 images of child pornography.
Diaz told detectives he is currently employed as an emergency department assistant nursing manager with AdventHealth Heart of Florida in Davenport.
“I am proud of the good work my detectives did on this case. If tampering with information in a State College database wasn't bad enough, he had a large amount of child pornography on his computer. It's ironic that our investigation ended up turning into a child pornography case,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
Diaz was charged with 10 counts of access to computer without authorization; use of a two-way device to commit a felony; and 75 counts of enhanced possession of child pornography. He is currently in the Polk County Jail and is being held on no bond.