Police Abuse

Another Florida Sheriff's Deputy Arrested For Arresting People on False Drug Charges

In one month, two sheriff's deputies in Florida have been arrested for fabricating drug evidence during traffic stops.

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A former sheriff's deputy in Martin County, Florida, was arrested Monday for falsely imprisoning people on bogus drug charges. He is the second Florida deputy in one month to be charged with fabricating evidence during drug-related arrests.

Former Martin County Sheriff's Deputy Steven O'Leary, who was fired from the department in January, allegedly made three drug arrests in which the substances involved were not actually narcotics. In each case, he claimed that roadside field tests returned positive results for illegal drugs.

Local news outlet WPTV reports:

A Regional Crime Lab determined one of the substances was a powder commonly used to treat headaches, and another was a sand-based material containing no narcotics.

O'Leary had been with the Martin County Sheriff's Office since February 2018. He was fired from the Martin County Sheriff's Office in January when the State Attorney's office found problems with three of O'Leary's cases.

After Monday's arrest, O'Leary is charged with multiple offenses including: official misconduct, false statements, tampering with evidence, false imprisonment, petit theft and battery.

Earlier this month, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced the arrest of former Jackson County Sheriff's Deputy Zach Wester, who was fired after he was caught on his own body camera appearing to plant a small baggie of methamphetamines in a woman's car during a traffic stop.

Reason obtained body camera footage of a case where Wester lied about the results of a roadside field test for drugs and falsely arrested a man for methamphetamine possession.

After the local state attorney's office lost faith in Wester's credibility, it dismissed more than 100 cases where he had been the sole or primary officer. State investigators later revealed that when they searched the trunk of Wester's patrol car they found dozens of unlabeled evidence bags containing methamphetamines and marijuana, as well as drug paraphernalia.

In addition to a growing number of federal civil rights lawsuits against him, Wester now faces 52 felony charges related to the arrests of 11 people. The charges include racketeering, false imprisonment, possession of methamphetamine, fabricating evidence, perjury, and official misconduct.

State prosecutors are still reviewing 80 drug-related cases that O'Leary handled during his 11-month stint at the Martin County Sheriff's Office, and 20 people have announced their intent to sue O'Leary and the sheriff for civil rights violations.

"We will never be able to fully put every piece of this back together," Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said at a January press conference. "But we'll learn from what we did, we'll move forward, and we'll be a stronger sheriff's office as a result."

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  1. How about a nice big RICO case against the entire department?

  2. After the local state attorney’s office lost faith in Wester’s credibility, it dismissed more than 100 cases where he had been the sole or primary officer. State investigators later revealed that when they searched the trunk of Wester’s patrol car they found dozens of unlabeled evidence bags containing methamphetamines and marijuana, as well as drug paraphernalia.

    Couple of observations.

    Maybe having to dismiss all those prior charges due to lack of credibility will be what turns the tide. The publicity is so much easier and widespread that it’s harder to hide the worst cops.

    The trunk junk implies he was the only deputy using that car, or that whoever used it in other shifts was in on the deal. The first seems mighty inefficient; the second makes you wonder how high up the food chain this goes.

    1. Actually, the vast majority of police forces have roughly one car per patrolling officer. At first it does seem inefficient but consider the following:

      A small police force with only 1 officer per shift. 3 shifts per day and, for the sake of simplicity in the example, they all work 7 days a week with no vacation. If the 3 officers share a car, they put a lot of miles on it and the car wears out in 2 years. If each officer gets his/her own car, they put 1/3 the miles on it so the cars take 3 times as long to wear out. In either scenario, the department is buying three cars every six years. Yes, there are some minor incidentals like the radios but those costs are more than offset by the increased care each driver will bring to “his” car. The economics are pretty much a wash.

      Car per officer, though, gives the department a lot more flexibility in scheduling.

      1. In either scenario, the department is buying three cars every six years.

        Yes, but in the 1st case

        – one car is paid for now
        – one car is paid for in 2 years
        – one car is paid for in 4 years

        while in the 2nd case 3 cars are paid for now.

        So the economics isn’t a wash at all: in the 1st case, there’s 12 car-years being financed, while in the 2nd case 18 years. That’s 150% higher.

        1. I don’t think you are matching correctly. You forgot about the cars purchased 2 and 4 years ago, unless those other two officers are walking.

          1. unless those other two officers are walking

            The 1st case is when the 3 officers are sharing the single prowler: no officer is ever walking (but the prowler is being driven 24/7).

      2. They should buy used cars cheap at police auctions.

  3. “But we’ll learn from what we did, we’ll move forward, and we’ll be a stronger sheriff’s office as a result.”

    “Strong enough to crush any plaintiffs with our immunity.”

  4. “It’s not a war on drugs, it’s a war on personal freedom.”
    — Bill Hicks

  5. “We’ll learn from what we did, and won’t get caught next time.”

  6. They got rid of a bad cop after only 11 months? Inconceivable!

    1. You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

  7. You better read this cop’s rights because obviously he doesn’t understand the people he arrested have rights also.

  8. Cue the policemen’s union.

    1. Which should be the REAL target of RICO.

  9. He has been fired and now has to work for the next county over’s sheriff dept. Isn’t that punishment enough!?!
    /Cop union

  10. WHEN (not if, as from here the evidence is VERY strong…..) these clowns are convicted, justice demands that they are sentenced to the t TOTAL of the sentences of ALL the innocents they framed and sent down the river.

    They bore false witness against every one of the people they arrested in this scam. Thus they should serve the total of all the sentences meted out to the entire group of their victims.
    And I would hope that any fellow officers who stood by as this stuff happened will also be charged as accomplices in this sick racket. They held silent as these innocents got sent down the river. Even if they are released and goven dollar compensation for their time unjustly served, their lives have still been ruined. NO ONE can recover time lost in the pokey and away from family, friends, work, etc.

  11. They don’t have real crimes to pursue so they have to make some up? Prosecute the police to the fullest.

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