A Florida sheriff’s deputy was fired and nine people were released from jail after tests revealed the substances used in some of his narcotics arrests were not actually drugs.
Martin County sheriff’s Deputy Steven O’Leary, a road patrol deputy, was fired after substances he claimed reported positive field tests for drugs came back from the laboratory testing lacking any narcotics, the sheriff said.
Sheriff Will Snyder told reporters Tuesday afternoon that the nine people released from prison had been arrested on narcotics charges by O’Leary in three separate cases.
“In all three cases, the evidence, according to O’Leary’s reports, field-tested positive for illegal narcotics and he made an arrest,” Snyder said, according to the Treasure Coast Newspapers.
In one case, he said, the substance was a powder commonly used to treat headaches, while another substance was revealed to be a sand-based material with no presence of any illegal narcotics, he added.
Snyder did not release any information about the nine people arrested, though said some of the releases were somewhat complicated.
“Some of these people had (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) detainers; some of them had warrants from other places. We had to work through legitimately getting them out of jail,” he said.
O’Leary’s motives are unclear and that no charges have been filed against him.
“There is absolutely no ethnic, racial or gender issue that sticks out (about the arrests),” he said. “This was across the board, all races and all genders.”
O’Leary has made 80 drug-related arrests in the 11 months he worked for the sheriff’s office. He previously worked for the Town of Palm Beach Police Department.
Snyder said detectives combing through all those reports to make sure there aren’t any other discrepancies.
“The culture here is one of honesty and integrity. I know that and I feel that every day,” Snyder said. “This was a complete outlier activity; this is not an indication of systemic issues with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office.”