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Man alleges restroom sex led to extortion attempt

Police detectives are searching for a man they say tried to extort $5,000 from a 56-year-old man after they shared a sexual interlude in a department store restroom.

The victim reported to St. Petersburg police that a week ago, he fondled a man in the restroom after the stranger exposed himself, said police spokeswoman Lilla Davis-Mays.

The stranger produced a badge and told the victim he was a law enforcement officer, working undercover to catch child molesters, Davis-Mays said. He wrote down the victim's name and address and asked questions about his job.

The stranger told the man he would let him go, and the two parted ways.

On Thursday, the victim got a telephone call at his office.

"That person told him there was a problem with the investigation and he'd been charged with the bathroom episode," Davis-Mays said.

He told the victim that an arrest warrant had been issued and bond had been set at $10,000, police said. The caller however, told the victim he would be willing to reduce the bond if he was paid $5,000.

"But the victim had to act then," Davis-Mays said.

On Thursday, the two men met at a restaurant in the Tyrone area. When the victim offered a $5,000 cashier's check, the other man demanded cash. By this time, the victim had grown suspicious, and when he returned to the bank, he called police. When officers arrived at the restaurant, the extortionist was gone.

"Witnesses said he left the restaurant and was being chased in the parking lot by an unidentified individual," Davis-Mays said.