Police: Blood, video link Tampa plastic surgeon to lawyer’s disappearance
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Investigators have blood, video and other evidence linking a Tampa-area plastic surgeon to the disappearance and presumed death of a lawyer who was representing former colleagues the doctor is suing, prosecutors said in court documents filed Monday.
The lawyer’s body has yet to be found, but prosecutors have charged Dr. Tomasz Kosowski with first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty.
Security video shows someone driving Kosowski’s pickup truck last Tuesday morning outside the law firm where Steven Cozzi worked. The person went inside wearing a backpack and gloves and carrying a large box, prosecutors said.
Almost two hours later, it appears the same man exits Blanchard Law wearing different clothes, pulling a large cart containing something in a bag or covered by a blanket. He struggled with its weight as he pulled it near the truck, prosecutors said. The man then stops.
At about this time, Kosowski, 44, dialed into a telephone conference about his lawsuit. Cozzi had been expected on the call, but missed it. As soon as it ended a half hour later, the person in the surveillance video begins loading the cart into the doctor’s truck, again struggling with its weight, prosecutors said.
Blanchard Law has been representing Kosowski’s former employer and co-workers in an ongoing lawsuit he filed against them four years ago. Kosowski, who began working for Laufer Institute of Plastic Surgery in 2016 doing breast reconstructions, says in the lawsuit that the woman Laufer assigned to process his insurance billing didn’t file claims and lied to his patients, costing him tens of thousands of dollars and resulting in negative reviews online.
The day Cozzi disappeared, a colleague looking for him discovered his wallet, keys and phone in his office and a large amount of blood in the building’s public bathroom.
About a half an hour after the truck left the law firm, a license plate reader near the doctor’s home showed it arriving in the neighborhood and got a shot of what appears to be a body covered by a bag or blanket in the truck bed, prosecutors said.
The license plate reader detected the truck leaving the neighborhood about five hours later. It was next seen by a license plate reader in Miami, a 300-mile trip that likely would have gone through the Everglades.
Police executed a search warrant at Kosowski’s home Thursday and found blood both in the bed of his pickup bed and its cabin, as well as in the garage, prosecutors said. They stopped the doctor Saturday in another vehicle and found a ballistic vest with a substantial amount of blood on it and a bag containing brass knuckles, a stun gun, syringes containing a paralyzing agent and other sedatives, duct tape and masks.
Kosowski, who goes by “Dr. K,” was arrested shortly after and charged with first-degree murder. He is being held without bond at the Pinellas County jail. His attorney, Bjorn Brunvand, said Monday that he has filed a not guilty plea on Kosowski’s behalf and requested a jury trial.
“That’s all I can really say at this point,” Brunvand said in an email.
In his lawsuit against the Laufer Institute, Kosowsky alleges his “promising young career has essentially been obliterated” by the employee who was supposed to be filing his insurance claims. “Through no fault of his own, his career was put directly in jeopardy and his reputation has been deeply tarnished.”
Kosowski left the Laufer Institute in 2018 and set up his own practice.
Telephone and email messages seeking comment were left with Blanchard Law and the Laufer Institute.
Cozzi’s mother, Lois Cozzi, issued a statement to Tampa media over the weekend saying, “As a family, we are frantic with worry and numb with fear over Steven’s disappearance.”
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