Former Jackson County deputy Zachary Wester, 26, was arrested Wednesday morning on felony charges of racketeering, official misconduct, fabricating evidence, possession of a controlled substance and false imprisonment. The arrest by FDLE agents was announced that day. He was being held without bond as of the time FDLE issued a press release on the matter.
Wester, a former deputy with Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, was arrested in Crawfordville. Officials say he is also charged with misdemeanor perjury, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
FDLE began its investigation last August at the request of Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. Officials say the investigation shows Wester routinely pulled over citizens for alleged minor traffic infractions, planted drugs inside their vehicles and arrested them on fabricated drug charges. Wester circumvented JCSO’s body camera policy and tailored his recordings to conceal his criminal activity.
“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 in the release. “I am proud of the hard work and dedication shown by our agents and analysts on this case to ensure justice is served.”
Jackson County Sheriff Lou Roberts also made a statement. “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,” Roberts said in the release. “I also appreciate FDLE and the State Attorney’s Office for their commitment to this investigation.”
During the investigation, authorities say, FDLE agents analyzed over 1,300 minutes of recorded video and logged over 1,400 working hours on the case.
A press conference regarding the arrest was to be held Wednesday afternoon at 2 p.m. at the Jackson County Emergency Management building, located at 2819 Panhandle Road in Marianna.
Wester was booked into the Wakulla County Jail Wednesday. The Office of the State Attorney, First Judicial Circuit, will prosecute the case.
This case remains active, officials said, and anyone with additional information about Zachary Wester regarding this case is asked to contact FDLE Pensacola at 800-226-8574.