Plastic surgeon Tomas Kosowski charged in killing of lawyer Steven Cozzi

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When plastic surgeon Tomasz Kosowski called into a telephonic court hearing last week — representing himself in a lawsuit he’d filed against his former employer — an opposing attorney, Steven Cozzi, was absent.

Cozzi was still missing hours later, and blood was soon found inside his Florida office building’s bathroom. After reviewing the building’s surveillance video, police suspect Cozzi may have already been dead when the court hearing began.

A minute after the hearing ended, surveillance video showed a man at Cozzi’s office building lifting a large, covered cart into the bed of his truck, police said. The Largo Police Department now believes the cart contained Cozzi’s dead body.

Police later identified the suspect as Kosowski, 44. He was arrested early Sunday and charged with first-degree murder. As of late Monday, he remained in Pinellas County Jail.

Kosowski’s attorney, Bjorn Erik Brunvand, told The Washington Post that Kosowski pleaded not guilty Monday but declined to comment further.

Though Cozzi’s body has not yet been located, he is presumed to be dead, according to police.

Cozzi was an attorney for Blanchard Law in Largo, Fla. In May 2019, Kosowski brought a civil complaint against the Laufer Institute of Plastic Surgery and some of its employees. Blanchard Law and Cozzi represented the Laufer Institute of Plastic Surgery.

‘Nobody’s safe’: Lawyers take precautions after Ga. attorney’s killing

Kosowski, whose nickname is Dr. K, began working as a plastic surgeon at the Dunedin, Fla., cosmetic center in about September 2016, according to the lawsuit. Kosowski alleged in the complaint that the company’s insurance biller failed to file claims correctly, leading to a patient being denied a breast reconstruction procedure. Kosowski claimed he took a reputational hit and lost thousands of dollars.

The case is ongoing, but Kosowski has since left the Laufer Institute of Plastic Surgery.

“Dr. K’s promising young career has essentially been obliterated,” his lawsuit states.

Before the telephonic hearing in the case began March 21, a man whom police later identified as Kosowski entered Blanchard Law’s building around 8:34 a.m. wearing gloves and a large backpack and carrying a wide box, police said in an arrest affidavit. Cozzi arrived to work minutes later.

Around 10:22 a.m., the man later identified as Kosowski was seen on surveillance footage pulling a large cart out of the building with a red bag or blanket on top, police said. At 10:28 a.m., Kosowski attended the hearing by phone, but when he disconnected at 11:04 a.m., he was again seen in the footage positioning the cart near his gray Toyota Tundra in the parking lot before lifting it into the trunk, police said.

Kosowski then drove to his Tarpon Springs home and, later that day, left the neighborhood in a red Toyota Corolla, according to police. The vehicle was later spotted in Miami, the affidavit says.

Back at work, Cozzi was nowhere to be seen, though his car remained in the parking lot and his wallet, car keys and cellphone were still in his office. After he was reported missing, police responded to the office, where they noted that his phone was playing music. It appeared that Cozzi had been in the middle of responding to an email. Surveillance footage never showed him leaving the building, according to the affidavit.

Officers noticed a chemical odor in the building’s bathroom and said they found blood smeared on the door, wall and toilet. Police said they also discovered Kosowski’s fingerprint in the building’s breaker room.

On Thursday, police obtained a search warrant for Kosowski’s home, where they said they found blood inside the Toyota Tundra. Two days later, police conducted a traffic stop on Kosowski near his home in Pinellas County and executed a search warrant on his Toyota Corolla, which allegedly had a bloody ballistic vest inside. Police said they also discovered a bag containing masks, brass knuckles and sedatives.

Jake Blanchard, Cozzi’s boss, told WFLA that he had worked with Cozzi for five years and considered him his best friend.

“You don’t know why somebody would hurt somebody as nice as this guy,” Blanchard told the news station. “I mean, this is the nicest guy, the sweetest person.”

Cozzi’s mother, Lois Cozzi, told WFLA she can’t make sense of what happened to her son.

“A wonderful human being, who [loved] his family, who was smart and kind, has been stolen from us,” she said in a statement. “It is totally senseless.”

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