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Cozmanoff gets 12 years in hit and run of Lake Co. officers

Jason Cozmanoff and Brittany Meax

CROWN POINT — A man sentenced in 2014 to 12 years in prison for killing a Lake County corrections officer in a hit-and-run crash is free to walk the streets, but he won't see his driving privileges restored for now.

Jason Cozmanoff, 49, appeared in court Monday with defense attorney James Woods for a hearing on his petition for specialized driving privileges.

Cozmanoff was released from prison in June 8, 2018, Indiana Department of Correction records show.

He was sentenced Feb. 7, 2014, to 12 years in prison for a crash March 6, 2012, that killed Lake County Corrections Officer Britney Meux and injured three of her fellow officers.

Lake Criminal Court Judge Salvador Vasquez also ordered Cozmanoff's driving privileges to be suspended for three years after his release from prison.

Prosecutors said at trial that Cozmanoff's drinking contributed to his decision to continue driving 11 miles to his father's garage in Lakes of the Four Seasons, despite massive damage to the front end of the 2002 GMC Yukon.

Since Cozmanoff turned himself in nearly a day after he ran the officers over, he wasn't charged with operating while intoxicated. 

A Lake Criminal Court jury found Cozmanoff guilty on 13 counts, including reckless homicide, criminal recklessness, failing to stop after an accident and reckless driving.

After his release from prison, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles notified Cozmanoff his license would be suspended until June 12, 2022, records say.

In a motion seeking specialized driving privileges, attorneys for Cozmanoff said he works as a bricklayer and wants to drive to job sites throughout northern Indiana. He also wants to drive to visit his children every other weekend, to go to doctor's appointments and make shopping trips on the weekends.

Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Mark Watson objected to granting Cozmanoff driving privileges.

Vasquez told Woods he was "splitting hairs" while discussing the statute under which Cozmanoff's license was ordered suspended. Lawmakers amended the statute after Cozmanoff was sentenced.

"Your request is denied," Vasquez said.

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Public Safety Reporter

Sarah covers crime, federal courts and breaking news for The Times. She joined the paper in 2004 after graduating from Purdue University Calumet.