Former Florida deputy accused of planting drugs

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JACKSON, FLA. (WKRG) — A Jackson County, Florida deputy was fired and is now behind bars.

Twenty-six-year-old Zachary Wester was arrested Wednesday. The former sheriff’s deputy is now facing charges alleging he routinely pulled over drivers for minor traffic infractions, planted drugs, then arrested them on made-up drug charges.

In August of 2018, the Jackson County sheriff asked members of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to open an investigation into one of his deputies. Wester had been with the department since 2016, and was said to be planting drugs in cars, leading to a slew of false charges.

“We’re supposed to set the higher standard, and the allegations that were made in this case will be tried,” said Jackson County Sheriff Lou Roberts.

The evidence was caught on body camera and Wester was fired immediately. And after months of a deeper investigation, officials are sharing how much time he could face behind bars.

“There are 52 charges and they require if he were convicted of all charges… under our guidelines, approximately 13 1/2 years in prison,” said Bill Eddins, State Attorney 1st Judicial Circuit.

Investigators say this was an isolated incident.

Eddins said, There is no other evidence that any other deputies or any other Jackson County personnel were involved with Mr. Wester.”

The case is now scheduled to go to trial. Additional charges could emerge but officials say it’s unlikely.

“FDLE spent over 1,400 hours on this case. So we believe that these charges are the majority of the charges that will be placed,” said Eddins.

At last check, Wester was being held without bond. His felony charges include racketeering, official misconduct, fabricating evidence, possession of a controlled substance and false imprisonment. He’s also facing several misdemeanor charges.

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