A McMinn County deputy has been arrested, accused of taking drugs from vehicles and drivers during traffic stops, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Friday.
Justin Hester, 28, of Englewood, Tenn., was charged with on a count of official oppression as the result of a TBI investigation that began in November 2011.
Hester made numerous traffic stops between the summer of 2011 and November 2011 that were not documented with county dispatchers, the TBI said in a news release.
The investigation showed that Hester removed prescription drugs such as oxycodone from people and vehicles he stopped. He did not arrest or charge the people nor did he turn in the pills to the sheriff’s office, instead keeping them for himself, the TBI said.
Although Hester worked for McMinn County since 2008, Sheriff Joe Guy began working with him when he took office in September 2010. In a news release, he called the situation “disappointing,” and said misconduct and criminal activity won’t be tolerated.
“The trust of the public is very important,” Guy added.
In the statement, the sheriff said he received a complaint back in November from an out-of-state man who said he was pulled over by Hester and later noticed pills missing out of his car. The incident was not reported by Hester, Guy said.
“It’s not our policy to stop a vehicle and not radio it in, so that certainly raised some red flags” Guy said.
To keep up with ethics codes, Guy said he asked TBI to look into the situation.
“We don’t investigate our own officers. It’s not ethical and it’s not proper,” he said in the news release. “If there is misconduct, it needs to be another agency that investigates it.”
Hester resigned in December without giving any specific reasons.
“Certainly I accepted his resignation,” Guy said. “At that time, it was just an investigation and he was not formally charged. When he left, it wound up being in the best interest of everyone.”