MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Martin County Sheriff William Snyder announced the firing of a deputy on Tuesday.
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At a news conference, Snyder said Deputy Steven O’Leary made three narcotics-related arrests in which the substances involved were not actually narcotics.
"I'm as bewildered as you are," said Sheriff Snyder.
According to the sheriff, O'Leary said he did a field test of the substances and claimed they tested positive for narcotics.
However, 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, the Sheriff said.
He added that O’Leary had been with the Martin County Sheriff's Office since February 2018, and made 80 drug-related arrests in his 11-month probationary period.
"It does not appear, after beginning to look at the 80 some odd cases, that any evidence was planted," said Sheriff Snyder.
Nine inmates were released from custody as a result, the sheriff said, and all of O'Leary's cases and arrests are now under review.
Snyder said O'Leary has been terminated, and could eventually face official misconduct charges.
"We will never be able to fully put every piece of this back together," said Sheriff Snyder. "But we'll learn from what we did, we'll move forward, and we'll be a stronger sheriff's office as a result."
O'Leary previously worked for the Palm Beach Police Department. He was employed for less than a year. The department said it reviewed all of his drug arrests during his employment and retested everything he seized and had in evidence. The department said all of the evidence tested positive for illegal drugs and they found no wrongdoing. Palm Beach PD said it has closed its investigation.
NewsChannel 5's Meghan McRoberts contributed to this report.