Florida: Money from arrest goes missing, 3 deputies resign

BARTOW, Fla. (AP) — Three former Florida deputies are facing charges after several hundred dollars seized during an arrest went missing, officials said Monday.

Former Polk County deputies John Raczynski, 24, Jamal Lawson, 29, and Garrett Cook, 26, resigned following their arrests Friday, Sheriff Grady Judd announced.

The three deputies were involved in the arrest of a woman on drug charges in December. Raczynski was the arresting officer, while Lawson and Cook joined him as backup, officials said.

The deputies seized $723, which was suspected to be related to drug sales, according to authorities. Raczynski logged the money in an incident report and probable cause affidavit but never submitted the money into property and evidence.

Last Monday, the woman who was arrested contacted the sheriff’s office about the return of her cash and cell phone, officials said. The next day, Raczynski filed a supplemental report adding the $723 as an item of evidence. Raczynski electronically signed the report and then fraudulently notarized it as Cook, officials said.

When questioned by investigators, the three deputies said they realized the money was missing several days after the arrest but planned to replace it with their own money to avoid getting into trouble, officials said.

Judd said during a news conference that he suspects the money never was missing and was actually stolen by one of the three deputies.

All three former deputies have been charged with conspiracy to tamper with evidence. Lawson and Raczynski face additional misconduct and evidence tampering charges.

All three men are free on bail. Jail records didn’t list attorneys for them.

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