A former Florida sheriff 's deputy was arrested on Wednesday after authorities alleged that he had planted drugs and falsely accused dozens of innocent motorists after arresting them under the pretext of "stealing. a minor road check.
Jackson County Member of Parliament Zachary Wester was arrested in Crawfordville, about 20 kilometers south of Tallahassee, after a year – long investigation by the Florida Police Department. vehicles during the search, said the authorities in a statement.
During most of these stops, Wester extinguished his body camera and "adapted his recordings to conceal his criminal activities," the authorities said. After "finding" the drugs, he would charge motorists with false criminal charges and stop them.
Wester's actions led prosecutors to drop the charges in nearly 120 cases between 2016 and 2018, including a man who lost custody of his daughter following the false arrest.
In October 2017, Benjamin Bowling had been falsely accused and arrested by Wester for possession of methamphetamine while he was going to the store to take diapers, according to the arrest warrant. The Florida Child Protection Agency had recently confided to Bowling the custody of his daughter after his release after the conviction of DUI, but as a result of the false arrest, he lost custody of his child.
"There is no doubt that Wester's crimes were deliberate and that his actions put innocent people in jail," said Chris Williams, deputy special agent of FDLE Pensacola, in a statement.
Ten special agents and two crime analysts traveled more than 1,300 minutes of video recordings and recorded more than 1,400 hours of work to uncover Wester's evil scheme, he said.
The authorities found 42 pieces of drugs, 10 bags of methamphetamine and 5 bags of marijuana hidden in an unmarked and unsecured bag of evidence in the trunk during the search of Wester's car.
Wester faces 52 counts of defamation, including racketeering, official misconduct, fabrication of evidence, possession of a controlled substance and unlawful imprisonment, as well as perjury for tort, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug.
The authorities opened an investigation into Wester last year at the request of the sheriff's office. He was fired last September.
Wester was booked at Wakulla County Prison and is being held without bail.