MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB)- A former Jackson County deputy is behind bars after FDLE officials said he intentionally planted drugs in vehicles during routine traffic stops and arrested citizens on fabricated charges.
In August of 2018, Jackson County sheriff, Lou Roberts, asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to open an investigation into one of his deputies. After a further probe, Zachary Wester, an officer with the department since 2016, 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 Co. Sheriff, Lou Roberts.
The evidence was caught on a body camera. He was fired immediately and after months of a deeper investigation, officials announced his arrest and the time he could face.
“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 State Attorney 1st Judicial Circuit, Bill Eddins.
Investigators said Wester was an isolated incident. “There is no other evidence that any other deputies or any other Jackson County personnel were involved with Mr. Wester,” said Eddins.
The investigation is on-going as they prepare to take it to trial. Additional charges could emerge but officials said 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.
Wester is being held in the Wakulla County jail without bond. State Attorney Eddins said the investigation is on-going but they are ready to take it to trial and expect to try the case in Jackson County when the time comes.