Deputy caught on video burglarizing home of hurricane victim, authorities say

Jason Cooke resigned after he was accused of breaking into dying man's home.

ByABC News
October 26, 2017, 11:40 AM

— -- A Florida sheriff's deputy resigned after he was accused of stealing a dying man's medication when he allegedly entered his home, which was hit by power outage during Hurricane Irma, illegally.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office confirmed that Deputy Jason Cooke officially left the department on Wednesday, according to a statement.

Cooke had been captured on surveillance cameras inside a home in Boynton Beach after the system sent an alert to the homeowner's children.

On Sept. 12, around 9:22 a.m. -- two days after Irma made landfall -- officers with the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office were called to the home of 85-year-old Moe Rosoff, who opted to weather Hurricane Irma alone in his home.

His son Jay Rosoff requested a check on his father; he was worried after the storm subsided and cameras failed to pick up any movement in the home. Responding officers found Moe Rosoff on the floor of a master bathroom. His family said he'd fallen and hit his head during a power outage in the storm.

He was rushed to a hospital, where he later died.

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According to the police report, the surveillance system sent an alert around 10:55 a.m. to Jay Rosoff and his brother Steven Rosoff that movement had been detected in the house.

"They viewed the footage and saw a deputy enter the residence through the garage," the police report said.

The Rosoffs reported the incident to police. According to the report, the video showed an officer, who authorities eventually identified as Deputy Cooke, allegedly going through cabinets, emptying containers and placing items in his pockets. Police said Cooke had not been told to report to the Rosoff home.

When officers spoke with Cooke and showed him the video, the police report said, he allegedly told them that he'd used the "garage code that was in the dispatch log" to enter the home.

He allegedly told police that he'd picked up medication from the counter in the kitchen, which he identified as Tramadol, "a schedule four controlled substance and used as a pain reliever."

When police searched Cooke's patrol vehicle, they said they uncovered 60 pills that included narcotic painkillers and antipsychotic medicine.

Before his resignation, Cooke had been suspended with pay. He was arrested Thursday and released on $28,000 bond Friday. He faces several charges including burglary while armed during a state of emergency and unlawful possession of prescription drugs. He has not yet been formally arraigned.

On Wednesday, before Cooke tendered his resignation, the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office said the case was still under investigation.

"The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office holds its employees to the highest standards and never forgets about its duty to preserve the public's trust. Unfortunately, sometimes an employee makes a bad decision which leads to misconduct. This misconduct was reported, investigated and subsequently determined to be criminal in nature, resulting in the charges. The Sheriff's Office will remain vigilant to ensure that our efforts are professional and meet the high standards that the public has come to expect," the department said in a statement to ABC News affiliate

The Rosoff family released a statement before Cooke resigned that said, in part, that they were "outraged and disgusted" when they saw the surveillance video.

"Had we not had this video, this cop would still be out there posing a threat of danger to the community he swore to protect and committing more crimes. It is our hope that the justice system treats this cop like any other criminal out there and that he doesn't receive further preferential treatment because he is a police officer," the family said.

Stuart Kaplan, Cooke's lawyer, told ABC News that the officer was remorseful and had shown "tremendous contrition."

Kaplan said Cooke was addicted to pain medication and was in the middle of treatment when he was arrested. He said that Cooke had been receiving treatment for "some period of time" and was working to get himself healthy.

"It's a very sad situation," Kaplan said. "This is not a person who's out there selling drugs. This is a person having difficulty with an addiction problem ... This is a young man who has had a lot of strife in his life ... It's very, very unfortunate."