Blazejowski back in court, seeking reduction to 9-year prison sentence

PETER.WILLOTT@STAUGUSTINE.COM Tawny Lynn Blazejowski testifies in a hearing before Judge Howard Maltz seeking to have her nine years prison sentence for extortion, aggravated stalking and making a false report of child abuse reduced in the St. Johns County court house on Tuesday, April 25, 2017. Judge Michael Traynor sentenced Blazejowski in 2014.

In an effort to reduce what was a shockingly long prison sentence even to the prosecutor, Tawny Blazejowski was back in a St. Johns County courtroom Tuesday afternoon.


Blazejowski is a former St. Johns County woman who pleaded to eight felonies after evidence was found of several vicious acts of revenge on her ex-boyfriend and some of the people around him. She appeared before Judge Howard Maltz Tuesday in an effort to get her nine-year prison term trimmed.

A motion filed by Blazejowski’s current attorneys, Dane and Brett Chase, argued that the defendant received ineffective counsel from attorney Tom Cushman during the plea and sentencing process in 2014.

But judging by Maltz’s synopsis of the evidentiary hearing, Blazejowski shouldn’t count on walking out of prison in the near future. He indicated that the argument for relief basically came down to the word of the defendant against that of her former attorney.

Considering the motion from Blazejowski’s own attorneys details the many examples of her making up stories to get ex-boyfriend Joe Good arrested three times and fired from his job, it’s difficult to imagine her testimony carrying much weight with the court.

“It’s really a factual credibility determination by the court in assessing evidence and not so much a legal determination,” Maltz said at the end of Tuesday’s hearing.

He gave the defense a May 5 deadline for submitting written closing arguments and the state a May 26 deadline for a rebuttal. Maltz will rule on the request for relief after that.

Blazejowski entered an open plead of no contest to eight felony charges — related to making threats or stalking and one for making a false report of child abuse — and was sentenced to prison on Oct. 10, 2014, by Judge Michael Traynor.

An open plea means both sides are promised nothing and that the judge has sole discretion to impose whatever punishment he sees fit — up to the maximum sentence according to state law.

The defense motion says Blazejowski was presented with an offer of between two and three years in prison to plead no contest to several charges while others would be dropped. Both the motion and her testimony Tuesday say that Cushman talked her out of taking the deal with the promise she would get a sentence without prison time from Traynor.

Cushman denied making any such promise at Tuesday’s hearing.

Blazejowski was arrested April 17, 2013, after evidence was found that she had been stalking and making false accusations against Good and several people close to him.

According to court documents, Blazejowski hacked into Good’s email account and sent obscene messages to executives at his workplace.

But that was just the beginning. She also harassed Good’s neighbor and co-worker, making it seem as if they were having an affair and that the woman’s husband was angry about it.

It further escalated when Blazejowski apparently injured herself but called the Sheriff’s Office claiming Good had hit her. That led to Good’s first arrest. She followed that by seeking an injunction barring contact with her, which made it easier for him to be arrested again.

Turning up the pressure, Blazejowski called in a tip to Crime Stoppers that Good’s daughter was selling drugs from her Gainesville residence. Police showed up but did not find any drugs in her possession.

Among the other disturbing behavior documented, Blazejowski also sent a photo of a dismembered body to the parents of Good’s new girlfriend.

Many of her actions were recorded in notebooks found by detectives working the case.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Blazejowski said Cushman, with vast experience working cases in St. Johns County, assured her that Traynor would not sentence her to prison time.

“He told me that he had known the judge personally, that he had worked in this county his entire career and he knew for a fact that if I pled open that he knew the judge was not giving me jail or prison time and I’d be home with my family that evening,” Blazejowski said.

Both Cushman and former Assistant State Attorney Travis Mydock, who prosecuted the case, said there was no deal for two to three years offered. There was a deal sketched out for 46 months in prison.

Cushman said Blazejowski was uninterested in any deal that required prison time. Cushman added that he was confident that Blazejowski would get a favorable decision from Traynor but couldn’t promise anything.

During the 2014 hearing, Cushman bought up evidence that Blazejowski suffered from bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.

“Ms. Blazejowski had some sympathetic qualities and some stuff I thought would be fairly persuasive at sentencing,” Cushman said Tuesday. “Her lack of criminal record, the fact that she was a single mom and she was raising four children. I thought we presented a pretty good reason for her to not go to prison.”

With the only other option being a trial, Cushman said he favored an open plea because a trial would have been a “disaster.”

It turned out to be a devastating decision to Blazejowski anyway. Her scoresheet indicated a sentence of about 7.5 years based on the severity of the charges and lack of previous convictions. But it was up to Traynor, who did not find her sympathetic.

“It’s clear to the court the actions of Miss Blazejowski were calculated, were systematic, were deliberate, were vindictive, were damaging,” Traynor said at the 2014 sentencing hearing. “Some of that may be attributable to her disorders, but they were certainly conscious and not the result of someone who couldn’t make (decisions) and follow her own conscience.”

Mydock said in testimony Tuesday that even he was taken aback by the nine-year prison sentence. He asked for seven years, but Traynor decided more was necessary.

“It’s probably because he saw everything that happened (from Blazejowski’s actions),” Mydock said Tuesday. “I’m pretty sure never has he ever given more (prison time) than I asked for.”