MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB) — It has been a little over two years since former Jackson County deputy, Zachary Wester, was arrested for allegedly planting drugs on innocent people.
After a week-long trial beginning on May 10, today Judge James Goodman Junior announced Wester’s sentence of 12 and a half years in prison.
The jury found Wester guilty on 19 out of 67 charges.
He was charged with racketeering, official misconduct, fabricating evidence, false imprisonment, possession of controlled substances, and drug paraphernalia, and perjury.
Wester had joined the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office in 2016, but it wasn’t until 2018, that people started to question his actions.
A prosecutor noticed Wester’s reports didn’t match his body cam footage.
Often, Wester would turn off his body camera and only have it on after he “found drugs” in people’s cars, but he was really taking the time off camera to plant the drugs in the vehicle he was searching.
Wester would plant substances like meth and marijuana in the car and then he would proceed to arrest the driver.
One of Wester’s victims appeared in court today, Teresa Odom.
“To you Mr. Wester, you’ve robbed me of my credibility of being a mother and a grandmother for the last three years. I’ve probably missed a year and a half of my grand baby’s life because of this,” said Odom, “I wish you no ill will, and you’ll never know what you’ve done to me until you have children of your own.”
The innocent people Wester arrested were in shock when the ex-deputy would claim to find illegal substances in their cars.
Before this, Wester had a clean record.
In 2019, Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested the former deputy in Crawfordville, where he and his wife lived.
It is not certain what Wester’s motive was, but prosecutors also say that it could have been his desire to serve in the narcotics unit.