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Fired Deputy Zachary Wester to Be Sentenced for Planting Drugs

Fired sheriff’s deputy Zachary Wester is scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday for planting drugs during traffic stops in Florida. The hearing is set to start at 3:30 p.m.

Wester, a deputy with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, was originally charged in 12 cases but the final guilty verdict was far more narrow than his alleged victims would have wanted. He was only convicted for encounters with Joshua EmmanuelSteven Vann, and Teresa Odom for charges of racketeering, official misconduct, perjury, fabricating evidence, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and false imprisonment.

According to prosecutors, his typical M.O. was to say he smelled marijuana as a pretext for searching the victim vehicles, then act like he found drugs such as meth or marijuana. Video showed him falsifying the drug test in Vann’s case, and palming the meth he planted on Odom, prosecutors said.

“It did return presumptive positive for methamphetamine, okay,” Wester told Odom in a February 15, 2018 traffic stop. “I’m just letting you know.”

After his arrest, prosecutors dropped almost 120 cases that he had been involved in. The defense suggested at trial that civil litigation motivated the alleged victims, and that there were histories of felony convictions.

At the very least, jurors determined that a few of the allegations could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

[Mugshot via Wakulla County]

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