[Polk County, Florida] 3 Sheriff Deputies Arrested for Evidence Tampering

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office says three deputies are facing charges for evidence tampering in relation to a December arrest.

According to a press release, the three deputies were arrested Friday night after an investigation began March 15. The deputies are John Raczynski, 24, Jamal Lawson, 29, and Garrett Cook, 26.

Sheriff Judd said the investigation into the deputies started on March 15 when a suspect who was arrested on December 21 called about her missing cellphone and $723 in cash.

Judd said the suspect was originally arrested during a traffic stop in Winter Haven, which was conducted by Raczynski. Cook and Lawson responded at the time as backup.

The suspect was arrested after drugs and cash we found in her vehicle and on her person, according to a press release. Raczynski documented the drugs and the cash in his report from the arrest.

Two days after the arrest, a release says Raczynski submitted 13 items into evidence but the cash was not one of them.

According to Judd, the deputies said they realized a few days after the arrest that the money was missing and decided to replace it with their own money. Judd said that never happened and the deputies never reported the missing money to their superiors.

Judd said officials don’t believe the money was ever lost, but that one of the three men stole it. The sheriff said he doesn’t know which one but added that it appears Raczynski had the money last before it disappeared.

Judd said he was “mad beyond words.”

“They risked everything over a tiny amount of money,” Judd said during a press conference. “If we’re going to hold the community accountable, we’re going to hold ourselves even more accountable.”

According to the release, after the suspect contacted the sheriff’s office on March 15 detectives found a supplemental report Raczynski created on March 16 adding the cash as an item of evidence. The release says Raczynski used Cook’s login information to fraudulently sign the report as if Cook was an official witness.

After the suspect contacted the sheriff’s office, the press release says Raczynski called Lawson. Lawson sent Raczynski $500 through CashApp, and the plan was for Raczynski to add the remaining $223 of his own money and submit it to evidence. That attempt failed and Lawson asked for the money back, according to the release.

The investigation was started after a PCSO Property & Evidence Officer reported a suspicious phone call from Raczynski on March 15.

According to the press release, Raczynski called the officer at work and asked her to call him on her personal phone. When she did he asked if there was anything he could to replace the money. The officer reported the call to her supervisor, who reported it to Raczynski’s Sergeant.

Raczynski’s Sergeant asked him about the call and the missing money. According to the release, Raczynski said he and Lawson were going to “make it right” by submitting their own money. The Sergeant told Raczynski to take no other action and the internal investigation was started.

Lawson, Cook and Raczynski were all interviewed on March 19.

Lawson confirmed that the money was removed during the initial arrest and gave conflicting stories on where it was placed after being seized, according to authorities.

Cook also confirmed that the money was removed and said he last saw the bag of evidence sitting in the truck of a vehicle but didn’t say which vehicle. The release says when Raczynski told Cook a few days after the arrest that the money was missing, Cook said they should tell their Sergeant but Raczynski was worried about getting in trouble.

Authorities say Cook knew over the next few months of the plan to replace the money but took no steps to stop it.

Raczynski also confirmed the details of the original arrest. Authorities say he told them Lawson took the evidence and he took the suspect to jail. He told detectives the next day he noticed the money was missing and said the three searched for it but couldn’t find it, so they created the plan to replace it. He also admitted to using Cook’s password to fake the witness signature on the supplemental report he created on March 16.

Cook is charged with:

  • Conspiracy to commit tampering with evidence, for conspiring with Lawson and Raczynski in unlawful tampering or fabricating evidence (F3)

Lawson is charged with:

  • Conspiracy to commit tampering with evidence, for conspiring with Cook and Raczynski in unlawful tampering or fabricating evidence (F3)
  • Official misconduct, for knowingly and intentionally causing another person to falsify an official record to cover up the loss of evidence (F3)
  • Tampering or fabricating evidence, by transferring money to Raczynski via the CashApp, knowing it was to be unlawfully submitted as evidence (F3)

Raczynski is charged with:

  • Conspiracy to commit tampering with evidence, for conspiring with Lawson and Cook in unlawful tampering or fabricating evidence (F3)
  • Official misconduct, for knowingly and intentionally falsifying an official record to cover up the loss of evidence (F3)
  • Tampering or fabricating evidence, by obtaining money to submit into evidence, knowing it was to be unlawfully submitted (F3)
  • Forgery, for forging another deputy’s signature to his report (F3)
  • Uttering forged instrument, for publishing as true a false and forged record (F3)

Raczynski and Lawson were hired by the department as detention deputies in 2017, and both later transferred to deputy sheriffs that same year. Cook was hired as a deputy sheriff in 2016. Sheriff Grady Judd said Lawson and Cook were also members of the SWAT team.

All of the deputies have resigned from the department when they were arrested on March 19.

Judd added that the charges against the suspect in the initial case have been dropped and that she will get her money back.

3rd Stimulus and when will you get it

A third round of stimulus payments is expected to be on the way later this month.

The payments are included in a sweeping $1.9 trillion COVID relief package that was approved by the Senate on Saturday and could be signed by President Joe Biden soon after the House takes a final vote, now expected to be on Wednesday.

Roughly 90% of American households will be eligible, according to an estimate from the Penn Wharton Budget Model.

Here’s what you need to know:

How much will you get?

The payments are worth up to $1,400 per person, including dependents. So a couple with two children could receive up to $5,600. Unlike prior rounds, families will now receive the additional money for adult dependents over the age of 17.

The full amount goes to individuals earning less than $75,000 of adjusted gross income, heads of households (like single parents) earning less than $112,500 and married couples earning less than $150,000. But then the payments gradually phase out as income goes up.

Do you make too much money to be eligible?

Individuals who earn at least $80,000 a year of adjusted gross income, heads of households who earn at least $120,000 and married couples who earn at least $160,000 will be completely cut off from the third round of stimulus payments — regardless of how many children they have.

On what year are the income limits based?

The income thresholds will be based on a taxpayer’s most recent return. If they’ve already filed a 2020 return by the time the payment is sent, the IRS will base eligibility on their 2020 adjusted gross income. If not, it will be based on the 2019 return.

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When can you expect the money?

People could start seeing the payments hit their bank accounts within days of Biden signing the bill — which is expected to happen soon after the House votes on Wednesday on the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

For the previous pandemic stimulus bill, the IRS started sending out the second round of payments three days after then-President Donald Trump signed that legislation in late December. But it’s possible that tax filing season, which is underway, could slow down the process this time.

The payments do not all go out at once. Those whose bank information is on file with the IRS would likely get the money first, because it would be directly deposited into their accounts. Others may receive paper checks or prepaid debit cards in the mail.

You got the last stimulus check. Will you get this one?

Not necessarily. While the same people who received the full amounts in the previous two rounds of stimulus payments will likely get the full amount this time, the checks will phase out faster now — cutting off people at a lower income level.

The first round, which was worth up to $1,200, excluded individuals who earned at least $99,000, head of household filers with one child who earned more than $136,500 and married couples without children earning more than $198,000 — but families earning a little more were still eligible if they had children. About 160 million payments were delivered, with 94% of families receiving the money.

The second round, which was worth up to $600, also phased out a little faster because the full amount was smaller. It phased out entirely at $87,000 for single filers without children and $174,000 for those married filing jointly without children. Again, those earning a little more were still eligible if they had children. About 158 million payments went out, with 92% of families receiving them.

The payments have been based on a taxpayer’s most recent tax return. So those who have filed new returns since last March could fall into or out of eligibility if their incomes changed.

Who else isn’t eligible?

Undocumented immigrants who don’t have Social Security numbers remain ineligible for the payments. But their spouses and children are eligible as long as they have Social Security numbers. They were excluded from the first round.

Will you owe back some money to the IRS if you earned more in 2020?

No. If your 2019 income was less than your pay in 2020 you will not owe back any money.

But if your income fell in 2020, filing your tax return now — before the payments go out — may mean you’ll get a bigger check.

What if you never got the last payment but believe you’re eligible?

Most people receive the payments automatically, but there are many who missed out — for a variety of reasons. An estimated 8 million eligible people didn’t get the first round of payments that were delivered last year.

Many of these people have very low incomes and are not normally required to file tax returns. Last year, the IRS set up an online portal where they could register for the money. It’s not yet clear whether the agency will open up the portal again for the third round of payments.

People who have moved or changed bank accounts since the last time they filed tax returns may have also missed out.

Those who were due money during the first two rounds of payments and did not receive it can claim it as a tax credit, known as the Recovery Rebate Credit, on their 2020 tax returns.

Time to buy stocks in FORD .. NEW Mustang Mach-E is taking over Tesla Sales.

Tesla is starting to lose market share among US buyers of electric vehicles, and Ford’s Mustang Mach-E appears to be the beneficiary.Analysis by Morgan Stanley shows that Tesla’s share of the US EV market fell to 69% in February, down from 81% a year ago.Tesla’s US sales are still climbing, according to this analysis, due to the increased appetite among US car buyers for electric vehicles. Morgan Stanley estimates that industrywide US EV sales rose 34% in February, compared to a year earlier, even as sales of traditional internal combustion engine vehicles fell by 5.4%, according to the analysis.Tesla (TSLA) reports only global quarterly sales, not monthly or US sales as do many other automakers. Tesla likely enjoyed a 5.4% gain in US sales in February, according to Morgan Stanley’s analysis.

The new electric offerings from traditional automakers resulted in their combined US EV sales more than doubling to 9,527 vehicles. And Ford’s Mach-E, which won SUV of the year honors this year and started deliveries in late January, accounted for 3,739 February sales, according to figures from Ford (F).”Mach-E accounted for nearly 100% of the [Tesla] share loss,” said Adam Jonas, Morgan Stanley’s auto analyst, in a note earlier this week.

Ford Mustang Mach-E

Other experts said they also believe that Tesla is losing some of its share of the EV market.”We’ve been expecting this for a while,” said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at AutoTrader. “Tesla was the only game in town. Now it’s not. We expect that Tesla sales will increase as the market increases, but there will also be stealing of Tesla’s market share.”A spokesman for Ford would not comment directly on Morgan Stanley’s analysis. The company did say that 70% of the Mach-E buyers were new to Ford, making the car that much more valuable to the automaker. More than 20% of Mach-E sales came in California, where Tesla is particularly popular.Tesla is facing competition from automakers such as Porsche, BMW, Audi and Jaguar for its luxury Model S sedan and Model X SUV, along with competition from Chevrolet, Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen, Nissan and now Ford for its lower priced Model 3 sedan and Model Y SUV.But the Model 3 and Model Y are now the mainstay of Tesla’s sales, accounting for about 90% of its global sales in the fourth quarter.Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on the Morgan Stanley analysis.Tesla has already fallen behind Volkswagen (VLKAF), the world’s No. 2 automaker, in sales of electric vehicles in many European markets, including Norway, where EVs now make up the majority of new vehicle sales.And it is facing new competition from General Motors (GM), which just debuted a compact SUV version of its US EV, the Chevrolet Bolt. The Bolt EUV will go on sale by early summer, along with a new version of the current Bolt hatchback. Both will be priced below the Model 3 and Model Y.

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And this is just the start of a wave of new EVs promised by traditional automakers in the years ahead. Volvo announced this week it will offer only electric vehicles by 2030, while Ford said it will sell only electric passenger cars in Europe by 2030. GM said it expects to sell only emissions-free vehicles by 2035.The aggressive targets on electric vehicles are driven both by tougher environmental regulations around the world as well as the growing appetite for EVs among buyers.

And although EVs are now more expensive to build than comparable gasoline-powered engines, improvements in economies of scale will likely lower the cost of parts, including the large batteries, making it less expensive and thus more profitable to build EVs. Electric vehicles have fewer moving parts and, according to an estimate from Ford, require 30% fewer hours of labor to assemble than traditional cars.