Ex-Deputy Arrested On 52 Counts After Allegedly Planting Meth On Innocent People

Former Jackson County Sheriff's Deputy Zachary Wester faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Crawfordville, FL – A former Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) deputy has been arrested on multiple counts for allegedly planting methamphetamine on random, innocent motorists while he was working as a law enforcement officer.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) began investigating 26-year-old Jackson County Sheriff’s Deputy Zachary Wester in August of 2018 at the request of his department, the DFLE said in a press release.

The JCSO requested the probe after a prosecutor noticed that the deputy’s reports were often inconsistent with what appeared on his bodycam – if he turned the recording device on at all, according to The Washington Post.

If his bodycam was activated, it was generally only turned on after he “found” methamphetamine inside of a suspect’s vehicle.

Wester, who comes from a prominent law enforcement family, began working as a deputy in May of 2016, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

Over the course of the next two years, the rookie deputy “routinely pulled over citizens for alleged minor traffic infractions, planted drugs inside their vehicles and arrested them on fabricated drug charges,” the FDLE said.

“Wester circumvented JCSO’s body camera policy and tailored his recordings to conceal his criminal activity,” investigators noted.

He generally told the unsuspecting vehicle occupants that he smelled marijuana, which then led to a search of the vehicle, The Washington Post reported.

But instead of “finding” marijuana, he would come out of the vehicles with meth.

“A patrol officer just does not get lucky time and time again under the same circumstances without engaging in a pattern and practice of violating persons’ constitutional rights and/or framing people,” one federal lawsuit filed against the now-former deputy declared, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

Some of the people Wester targeted were guilty of other offenses, such as outstanding warrants or traffic infractions, but many had done nothing wrong, The Washington Post reported.

One man was sentenced to a year in a residential rehabilitation center due to the deputy planting drugs in his car, and another man lost custody of his daughter.

“He’s ruined lives,” a family member of one of the people Wester arrested told the Tallahassee Democrat. “People are losing their lives, their freedom, their children, their marriages — all because of this one man. It’s not just innocent men. It’s innocent children. It goes a lot deeper than everyone realizes.”

At least 119 criminal cases that Wester either initiated or was heavily tied to have been dropped since the probe began, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

Sentences for at least eight inmates were vacated, resulting in at least five of the inmates being immediately released from prison, WFAA reported.

Over a dozen people have filed notices of their intent to file lawsuits against the JCSO for their various arrests, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

“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 said in the FDLE press release.

Wester was fired by the JCSO on Sep. 10, 2018, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

On July 10, he was arrested on 52 counts of false imprisonment, racketeering, fabricating evidence, official misconduct, possession of controlled substances, possession of drug paraphernalia, and perjury, according to The Washington Post.

Wester is being held without bond at the Wakulla County Jail, the FDLE said.

“I would like to thank the citizens of Jackson County for their patience during the investigation and my staff for continuing to serve our citizens during this difficult time,” Jackson County Sheriff Lou Roberts said in the press release. “I also appreciate FDLE and the State Attorney’s Office for their commitment to this investigation.”

State Attorney William “Bill” Eddins said that investigators have been unable to determine why Wester carried out the crimes he’s been accused of, The Washington Post reported.

“You’re never certain of what lies in the heart of man,” Eddins said.

The prosecutor noted that Wester faces up to 30 years in prison, and said he has no intention of offering him a plea bargain.

Comments (35)
No. 1-20
Excalibr4
Excalibr4

There should be no reason to not have the body cam on at all times, especially outside the squad car. Even in public restrooms, because they are designed for privacy anyway, except at ballgames. This monitoring holds true for the majority of any business today, whether it's by video or computer (usually both). With the war on cops in full swing, it's more for their protection than a means to catch them doing something wrong. Keeping them honest is just an added benefit. I know liberal Hollywood loves to portray all their cop heroes as somebody who breaks the law to solve cases and save lives. All that does is give everyone, with an IQ under 100 the impression all cops are dirty, to some extent.

LEO0301
LEO0301

Lock him up and throw away the key! Personally, I would consider permanently removing him from this world if the law allowed.

question evrything
question evrything

this little piggy is gonna go we we we all the way to prison!

JBo
JBo

He should do every day of the 30 years. No room in this honorable profession for criminals.

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

Why did the prosecutor discover this problem before his department did?

This case shows why those bodycams need to be on at all times that an policeman is either interacting with the public or performing a search.

Thanks for covering this important story Blue Lives Matter!

BlueLM101
BlueLM101

Notoriety is why he committed these crimes. He's a narcissist and it didn't matter how he affected the lives of others. It's very sad and he taints the legitimacy of every police officer in his department and community. That really hurts because the legitimate LEO's far outnumber the illegitimate ones. This person needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

new2lv2
new2lv2

This A-hole is one of the worst types of criminals out there. I hope he spends everyday of those thirty years behind bars. He's disgrace to humanity. I'm sorry he ever wore a badge, at least he was stopped and the innocents were exonerated. I will pray they can put their lives back together.

Harry Callahan
Harry Callahan

Body cam or no, this maggot is rotten to the very core. He has proven that he had no regard or respect for the uniform nor this honorable profession. The "No Bail" order is quite fitting, sms when he is sent off to one of Florida's penitenuries, I say put him in general population and leak the fact that's he's a former deputy.

GForce48
GForce48

A very long prison term is too short for this clown!

bryantrent
bryantrent

When goes to prison inmates don't like explaining cops

TrueAmerican
TrueAmerican

I cannot imagine when this POS would "find" the Meth the people he did it to how much they were flipping out knowing damn well no one would believe them!!! That one man lost his child!!! Yeah he needs to take the full ride on this one, Karma's got something special for him

Old Hawg
Old Hawg

He "comes from a prominent law enforcement family". There's your reason why he disgraced himself, his family, and his profession. The pressure on him to be a "supercop" must have been tremendous and he succumbed to it, doing terrible damage to the lives of innocent people.

CatherineC
CatherineC

What a total piece of trash. Looks like he was trying to impress someone and trying to get into anti crime or another tit detail. Maybe you should have just tried to learn to do the job the right way first and within time you could have moved up. Instead you decided to ruin people’s lives.i hope he does everyone of those 30 years.

Rascal1966
Rascal1966

What a complete sorry POS!!! You ruined all these people's lives just make yours look better?? I hope you f**king rot scumbag!!!

Dr Shoe
Dr Shoe

I want to know where he got all the Meth to plant and was he using it himself?

HAWAIIBLUE
HAWAIIBLUE

“He comes from a prominent Law Enforcement Family”.... Well the line ends here with this guy. What a disgrace. He probably felt as if he needed to look as if he was “somebody” too. Shameful. That’s what takes the trust away from the public view of the good officers.

Nikita72
Nikita72

Interesting...

Branoli
Branoli

As a former law enforcement officer once he goes to prison and the other inmates find that out he will have to either spend his whole time in solitary or watch his back every second of every day. Those inmates don't like anyone from law enforcement. I hope he enjoys his prison time.

GomerPyle
GomerPyle

We all know this isn't an isolated problem. If this is what it takes to further your career, then you need to find a better one. Don't give me the typical cop boilerplate response about " a few bad apples" it's a few good apples among an orchard of rot.

The days of an honest cop have long since departed. Nowadays its only one thing: Policing for profit. I will teach my children never to trust police officers, and do not tell them ANYTHING other than your name and basic info, and only if you are required to. Furthermore NEVER consent to any searches. Police have one goal and that is to rack up as many arrests as possible. All that nonsense about serve and protect is smoke and mirrors for dumb people.

This could have been me or my wife, we would've lost our careers and security clearances, as well as a permanent arrest record that can't be removed. And for what? Because some lowlife POS cop wanted to power trip. Travel overseas and ask people what they think of American cops. You'll quickly learn why no one trusts them.

TheBaddestBitch
TheBaddestBitch

Just another show of the 50 billion dollar well oiled machine that takes over peoples minds with greed and hopes of power... why else would anyone do that to innocent people... there really are some sick f***s out there and if you care more about money and power than the lives of innocent people and for gods sake our children... you should all burn in hell which is right where you WILL end up cause I promise to be sitting right there to make sure of it cause you can have all the money and power and I’ll take all the love and happiness that encompasses me when I see karma get your asses.... and that will be more than any power and money could buy as it will be priceless!!