Former TSA officer faces new charges

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. - UPDATE: Additional charges, including kidnapping and sexual battery, have been filed against Larry Kobielnik.  Pinellas County sheriff's investigators say they've also uncovered evidence suggesting Kobielnik victimized more women in the Bay area.

Early Friday morning, a woman said Kobielnik offered her a ride.  She told deputies when she got into the car, Kobielnik identified himself as a law enforcement officer, drover her to his house and raped her.

The woman says when Kobielnik fell asleep she was able to run out of the house, wrote down his plate number and called police.

During this investigation, deputies recalled an eerily similar crime report they'd been investigating since June.

Deputies were sent to a local hospital on June 1 to interview a patient who said she was raped by a law enforcement officer.

She told them that on May 13, around 9:00 a.m. a vehicle pulled up next to her on Hillcrest Avenue in unincorporated Clearwater.

The victim got into the suspect's vehicle and was driven to a house where she was sexually battered. The victim told detectives the suspect said she would be under arrest if she did not comply.

On July 30, the victim was able to positively identify the suspect as Larry Kobielnik.

"First incident he denied the allegations and he said what she was saying was not true and he did say that he has never done this ever in the past," said Cristen Rensell with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Kobielnik, who is being held on $1 million bond, is facing two counts of kidnapping, two counts of falsely impersonating a law enforcement officer and two counts of kidnapping.

PREVIOUS REPORT: New developments surrounding a former TSA officer and Tarpon Springs Police officer accused of kidnapping and raping a woman in Pinellas county.

Records from the Tarpon Springs Police Department show Larry Kobielnik was accused of eerily similar charges back in 2002, but the state attorney didn't pursue charges.

Larry Kobielnik started with the Tarpon Springs Police Department in 2001, almost immediately red flags were raised. Records reflect less than a stellar career. He even faced an extended probationary period.

"To monitor him more during stressful situations," said Sgt. Frank Ruggiero.

Sgt. Ruggiero said he hadn't made it out of that probationary period before facing an internal review for mishandling an investigation about a prowler.

"The chief did not make a determination if he would be terminated or give him disciplinary days off. He put him on administrative leave to make that determination and and during that leave officer Kobielnik resigned," said Sgt. Ruggiero.

According to the police report back in 2002, Kobielnik asked a woman for a ride around 2:30 in the morning.

She claimed he said he was an undercover police officer. According to the report, he drove to behind a law office where his wife worked at the time and forced her to have sex.

She then claimed he threatened her not to tell and then even offered to pay her ten dollars. She refused.  

"Officers followed up with the medical exams, fingerprint, DNA analysis... they sent the entire case to the state attorney's office and the state attorney's office decided not to prosecute," said Sgt. Ruggiero.

A letter from the Pinellas/Pasco State Attorney's office states their position. Prosecutors said the facts did not substantiate the charges and they closed the case.

The accusations in the old case, eerily mirror the charges from this weekend

The Pinellas Sheriff's office said Kobielnik offered another woman a ride, also around 2:30 in the morning flashing a gun and a badge.

He's accused of kidnapping her and raping her at a home in Dunedin. She managed to escape.

But questions remain: Should Kobielmick have been out on the streets?

Sgt. Ruggiero said while he feels they had a good case, he can't doubt the state attorney's decision.

"Sometimes there's more than what can be read in a report, the attorneys do interviews, and have a feel for what they are doing, so I don't think anyone dropped the ball," said Sgt. Ruggiero.

Action News contacted the state attorney's office. We were told the chief assistant was out of town. But, they would pull the file. Action News hopes for a comment later this week.
 

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