Former Fla. deputy gets 12 years in prison for planting drugs

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 11:12 AM CDT
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JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/Gray News) - A former Jackson County Sheriff’s Deputy convicted of planting drugs inside cars during traffic stops was sentenced to prison Tuesday, WJHG reported.

Judge James Goodman sentenced Zachary Wester to 12 years, six months and eight days in the Florida Department of Corrections, with credit for time served.

The 28-year-old former deputy was arrested in 2019. He was accused of planting drugs in cars during traffic stops while working for the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

In May, his case went to trial. He faced 67 charges including racketeering, official misconduct, fabricating evidence and false imprisonment. He was found guilty of 19 charges.

At Tuesday’s sentencing, the court heard from five witnesses, including one of Wester’s victims, Teresa Odom.

“You’ve robbed me of my credibility, being a mother and a grandmother. For the last three years, I’ve probably missed a year and a half of my grandbaby’s life because of this,” Odom said.

Wester was in tears when his wife, Rebecca Wester, spoke. “But most importantly, his absence does not allow him to continue to take care and serve the most important thing in his life,me. Not only is he missing in our home but also the homes of our friends,” she said.

The prosecution said Wester’s actions victimized the community.

“The defendant made choices to violate that trust and commit crimes against the very citizens he had sworn to protect. That’s what he was convicted for, violating that trust to commit crimes against them, to victimize them,” State Attorney Tom Williams said.

Goodman said he received more than 50 letters of support for Wester.

In their closing argument, the defense said Wester knows he’s going to prison but asked for the smallest number of years.

“Judge, we’re asking you to consider also that he does have no prior record, which is something that is very important in this case. That he has done good and he will continue to do good. And we’re asking the court to consider a sentence at the bottom of the guidelines of the 81.4 months in prison,” Defense Attorney Ryan Davis said.

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