crime and punishment

Ex-Polk County deputies John Raczynski, Garrett Cook, Jamal Lawson stole $723 from arrestee?

John Raczynski, 24, Garrett Cook, 26, and Jamal Lawson, 29, were arrested on March 19, 2021. They resigned as deputies from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Polk County, Florida, United States before they could be fired.

On December 21, 2020, Raczynski pulled over a woman in Winter Haven, Polk County and found narcotics in her car and $723 on her. Lawson and Cook arrived as backup.

The money was not included when Raczynski put 13 items of evidence in a property-and-evidence locker at a substation on December 23, 2020. It was not logged in the arrestee’s property at the jail either.

On March 15, 2021, the woman, who had been released from jail, contacted the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and asked about the money and her cellphone taken from her when she was arrested on December 21, 2020. On March 16, 2021, Raczynski added $723 in the Property Insert portion of his report of the case, which he electronically signed.

 

After the items of evidence were moved from Lawson’s trunk to Raczynski’s trunk, they could not find the money, the latter reportedly told the Polk County Sheriff’s Office property and evidence officer. According to the officer, Raczynski admitted that the money was unaccounted for.

When asked about the missing money, Raczynski told his sergeant that he and Lawson would submit their own money into evidence. However, the sergeant told Raczynski not to and a criminal investigation started.

According to investigators, Raczynski used Cook’s password to fraudulently report the latter as a witness. Investigators said an extensive audit is being conducted of Raczynski, Cook and Lawson’s criminal case reports and lists of seized property.

The three former deputies were charged with conspiracy to commit evidence tampering. Both Lawson and Raczynski are facing additional charges of official misconduct and tampering or fabricating evidence.

Moreover, Raczynski was charged with forgery and uttering forged instrument. More charges could be filed if investigators find additional discrepancies.

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