Florida Drops 119 Cases Over Planting of Evidence

Prosecutors dropped the charges after finishing their review of arrests involving Zachary Wester, a former Jackson County deputy accused of planting drugs on motorists. The charges involved everything from traffic offenses to felonies, including possession of methamphetamine. Wester was fired Sept. 10.

Florida prosecutors dropped charges in 119 cases after finishing their review of arrests involving Zachary Wester, a former Jackson County deputy accused of planting drugs on motorists, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. The charges involved everything from traffic offenses to felonies, including possession of methamphetamine and other controlled substances. Wester was fired Sept. 10 and remains under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. On Tuesday alone, some 49 cases were dismissed by Judge Wayne Mercer. The state began dismissing cases on Sept. 13 that either were initiated by Wester or heavily involved him.

Derek Blount, an assistant public defender, asked Mercer to set aside pleas and vacate sentences for about 40 defendants, some of whom had more than one arrest involving Wester. The explosive charges against Wester came to light last week in reporting by the Democrat. In addition to the dropped charges, Judge Christopher Patterson ordered a number of state inmates — at least five as of last week — to be released from correctional facilities. Last week, prosecutor Glenn Hess announced his office was reviewing more than 250 cases involving Wester. He “lost confidence” in Wester after watching body camera footage of Wester arresting a woman this year for possession of meth. In the video, Wester can be seen with a plastic baggie in his hand before conducting his search of the woman’s pickup truck. Prosecutors dropped drug charges against the woman last week.

from https://thecrimereport.org