Florida

Former sheriff’s deputy arrested on accusations of planting drugs to set up bad busts

Zachary Wester
Zachary Wester Wakulla County Sheriff's Office

A former Jackson County sheriff’s deputy planted drugs during traffic stops and made arrests based on the planted evidence, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement says.

That’s after an FDLE investigation and Wednesday’s arrest of Zachary Wester, a 26-year-old facing 52 counts of charges including felony racketeering, official misconduct, fabricating evidence, false imprisonment and possession of a controlled substance. Wester is being held in Wakulla County Jail.

“There is no question that Wester’s crimes were deliberate and that his actions put innocent people in jail,” said FDLE Pensacola Assistant Special Agent in Charge Chris Williams in FDLE’s arrest announcement.

Legal fallout from Wester’s actions include 119 cases in which charges were dropped, the Tallahassee Democrat wrote Wednesday.

“A Jackson County judge ordered sentences vacated for at least eight people locked up in prisons and other state correctional facilities across North Florida,” the news site reported in September. “He demanded at least five be returned to Jackson County and released immediately.”

Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office asked FDLE to look into Wester. FDLE says it found Wester would initiate a traffic stop, put drugs in the car, then arrest the people in the car.

“Wester circumvented JCSO’s body camera policy and tailored his records to conceal his criminal activity,” the FDLE said.

The Tallahassee Democrat reported that Wester is the son of Robbie Wester, a former JCSO captain.

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Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.
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