TALLAHASSEE (WFLA) – A former North Florida Sheriff’s Deputy was arrested and charged with planting illegal drugs on unsuspecting motorists on Wednesday.
The strongest evidence in the case is the Deputy’s own body camera footage.
In February 2018 Deputy Zachery Wester pulled over Teresa Odom.
He said her brake lights didn’t work. He then asked if Odom would consent to a search of her vehicle.
The Deputy’s body cam video showed a white substance in his hand as he prepared to search. The drugs ended up in Odom’s purse, before he arrested her despite her cries that the drugs didn’t belong to her.
Months later prosecutors discovered the video. Wester was suspended then fired.
119 cases in Jackson County were dismissed soon after.
When Wester was arrested in a Walmart Wednesday morning, the fired deputy was found with drug paraphernalia.
If convicted on all counts, the fired Deputy faces more than 100 years in prison.
“It’s an important case, not only for the victims, who spent time innocently, innocent victims who spent time in jail because of the actions of Mister Wester, but also for the law enforcement community,” said FDLE Spokesperson Gretl Plessinger.
Just outside Marianna in rural Jackson County, a billboard by Attorney Marie Mattox urged people to come forward. More than 30 have so far.
“Some of my clients have lost their children, lost their homes, they’ve been falsely imprisoned, and they have had tragedies in their lives because of what he’s done,” said Mattox. Mattox said none of her clients ever asked about recovering money.
Instead, they just wanted to know when Wester will be arrested.
“Very grateful for his arrest on behalf of my clients,” said Mattox.
In addition to the cases in Jackson County, 12 more in Liberty County were dismissed where Wester worked previously.
Wester remains in jail without bail. He’ll have a first appearance Thursday morning.
The Department of Law Enforcement says the case is still open and is asking any additional victims to come forward.