A law office bathroom was turned into a crime scene last week after a Largo lawyer went missing. Just two months earlier, the same bathroom was the site of a confrontation between the lawyer and the plastic surgeon now accused of his death, Tomasz Kosowski.
A search warrant filed in Pinellas County offers further details in Steven Cozzi’s disappearance on March 21, in which investigators found blood in the law office bathroom where he worked. The warrant was obtained by police to search Kosowski’s car. Inside, investigators found nearly $300,000 in cash and a black bag containing masks, weapons, tools and sedatives, the warrant states.
Kosowski, 44, was arrested Sunday and faces a first-degree murder charge in connection to Cozzi’s disappearance, despite police having not found Cozzi’s body. Kosowski remains in the Pinellas County Jail without bail after his first court appearance Monday. An attorney has entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.
Court documents show police believe Cozzi was likely attacked inside the bathroom of his office at Blanchard Law, 1501 S Belcher Road.
Kosowski was a plaintiff representing himself in a case that began in 2019 and Cozzi was representing several of the defendants. Another lawyer, Jacob Pillsbury, is also representing a defendant in the case.
“I’ll say this, I’m not surprised he (Kosowski) was arrested for this,” Pillsbury told the Tampa Bay Times in an interview. “I have been concerned about him since I got involved in this case last year.”
Jake Blanchard, a lawyer of Blanchard Law, told police that Cozzi and Kosowski attended a deposition at the Blanchard Law office that became “verbally contentious” in January. After the deposition, Kosowski confronted Cozzi in the men’s restroom in the common area just outside his office and again before leaving.
On the morning of March 21, Cozzi went to that same restroom and never returned, court documents state. Cozzi left behind his phone, wallet and keys on his desk.
A man left the building at 10:22 a.m. that day, struggling to push a cart that had what appeared to be a red blanket or flag in it. Cozzi wore a red sweater to work that day, according to court documents. Cozzi was never seen leaving the building.
Surveillance footage showed the man loading the cart into the bed of a Toyota Tundra, then leaving the office. Court documents state the Tundra was driven to Kosowski’s Tarpon Springs home, arriving before noon. Later in the day, Kosowski’s red Toyota Corolla was seen being driven away from his home and license plate readers picked up the car in Miami, records show.
After being called to the law office, police found blood smeared on the outside of the men’s restroom door, drops of blood on a toilet stall wall and on the outside of a toilet bowl. Dark liquid was dried and smeared in a circular motion on the floor, court documents state. The room smelled strongly of cleaning products, the warrant states.
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During the investigation, Largo police also learned of an incident that took place on March 14 at Tampa Bay Veterinary Clinic, 1501-B S Belcher Road. An employee at the clinic told police she walked into the utility closet in the common area of the building where the Blanchard Law office is. The woman saw a man hiding behind the door in the dark room wearing a surgical mask, the warrant stated.
The man said he was there because of a power outage and walked out of the room. The employee watched the man leave in a truck believed to be a Toyota Tundra, the warrant stated. The description of the Tundra from the March 14 incident matched the vehicle seen leaving the law office on March 21.
The warrant states that Kosowski’s fingerprint was later found on the inside of the utility closet door.
Pillsbury said Cozzi would open up his law office for Kosowski to perform depositions so he would not have to pay to rent a space. Pillsbury described Cozzi as a calm, witty, sweet guy who wore cardigans every day. He was a great lawyer and acted aboveboard throughout the case, Pillsbury said.
“Of all the people I met doing this job, he was probably one of the nicest,” Pillsbury said.
Pillsbury took on the case about a year ago and hadn’t known Cozzi before. Over time, the two became friends and began referring cases to one another.
Lawyers expect respect and decorum from opposing council, Pillsbury said. Kosowski was not a lawyer and Pillsbury didn’t see that kind of mutual respect during the lawsuit, he said.
Cozzi worked on the case for years, remaining professional and kind, Pillsbury said.
“I’m mortified he’s gone,” Pillsbury said.
Police believe Kosowski traveled from Tampa Bay to South Florida in his red Toyota Corolla. The Florida Department of Health lists Kosowski’s primary practice location in Miami.
The Miami-Dade Police Department’s cold case unit is assisting the Largo police investigation.
Times staff writers Natalie Weber and Matt Cohen contributed to this report.