JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — A former Jackson County deputy accused of planting drugs on unsuspecting drivers will now stand trial to face those accusations next year.
Zachary Wester, who allegedly planted drugs in people's cars during what seemed to be routine traffic stops, will go before a federal judge at the Jackson County Courthouse on May 10, 2021.
The trial is anticipated to last roughly three weeks.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement started their investigation into Wester in August 2018 and believes his actions resulted in more than 100 people being wrongly charged.
In most of the incidents reported in the affidavit, Wester's body cam was either not recording, or only recorded part of the stop, whether that was the initial connection with the driver, or after a search of the car had already started.
Investigators believe that Wester placed drugs and other paraphernalia inside at least 16 victims' cars when his camera was off.
"The investigation revealed 42 items of drug paraphernalia, 10 separately packaged quantities of methamphetamine, and five separate items of marijuana. All of those items were recovered in deputy Wester's patrol vehicle," said Chris Williams, Assistant Special Agent in charge of FDLE Pensacola region.
According to court records, Wester plead not guilty to 52 charges related to official misconduct, racketeering perjury, fabrication of evidence, possession of drugs, and false imprisonment. He's also facing 23 charges in connection to the false arrests.
If Wester is found guilty of all charges, he could face about 13 and a half years in state prison.