Police: Blood, video link doctor to disappearance lawyer

Investigators have blood, video and other evidence linking a Tampa plastic surgeon to the disappearance and presumed death of an attorney representing former colleagues suing the doctor, 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 outside the law firm where Steven Cozzi worked last Tuesday morning. The person entered wearing a backpack and gloves and carrying a large box, prosecutors said.

Nearly two hours later, the same man appears to be leaving Blanchard Law in a change of clothes, pulling a large cart with something in a bag or covered with a blanket. He struggled with the weight as he pulled it near the truck, prosecutors said. The man then stops.

Around that time, 44-year-old Kosowski called into a conference call about his lawsuit. Cozzi was expected on the call, but missed it. Once it’s over half an hour later, the person on the surveillance video begins loading the cart into the doctor’s truck, again struggling with the weight, prosecutors said.

Blanchard Law is representing Kosowski’s former employer and colleagues in an ongoing lawsuit he brought against them four years ago. Kosowski, who began working for the Laufer Institute of Plastic Surgery in 2016 doing breast reconstructions, says in the lawsuit that the woman Laufer hired to process his insurance bills failed to file claims and lied to his patients, costing him tens of thousands of dollars and resulting in negative reviews online.

On the day Cozzi disappeared, a colleague searching for him discovered his wallet, keys and phone in his office and a large amount of blood in the building’s public bathroom.

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About half an hour after the truck left the law office, a license plate reader near the doctor’s house showed it approaching and got a picture of what appears to be a body covered with a bag or blanket in the truck bed of the truck, prosecutors said.

The license plate reader saw the truck leave the neighborhood about five hours later. It was then seen by a license plate reader in Miami, a 300-mile journey that would likely have been through the Everglades.

Police executed a search warrant at Kosowski’s home on Thursday and found blood both in the bed of his truck bed and cab, as well as in the garage, prosecutors said. They apprehended the doctor in another vehicle on Saturday and found a ballistic vest with a significant amount of blood on it and a bag of brass knuckles, a stun gun, syringes of an anesthetic and other sedatives, duct tape and masks.

Kosowski, identified by “Dr. K,” was arrested shortly afterwards and charged with first-degree murder. He is being held without bond at the Pinellas County Jail. His lawyer, Bjorn Brunvand, said Monday that he has pleaded not guilty on Kosowski’s behalf and has 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 claims his “promising young career was essentially wiped out” by the employee who was supposed to file his insurance claims. “His career was directly jeopardized through no fault of his own and his reputation has been deeply tarnished.”

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Kosowski left the Laufer Institute in 2018 and set up his own practice.

Blanchard Law and the Laufer Institute have left telephone and e-mail messages requesting comment.

Cozzi’s mother, Lois Cozzi, issued a statement to the Tampa media over the weekend, saying, “As a family, we are mad with worry and numb with fear over Steven’s disappearance.”

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