FL: Former Martin County Sheriff’s deputy Stephen O’Leary faces years in prison after no contest pleas entered

According to O’Leary’s arrest warrant, some of the substances he said were narcotics was sand, mint remnants and other substances.

Former Martin County Sheriff’s deputy Steven O’Leary faces up to 17 years in prison after pleading no contest to dozens of felony charges during a hearing Thursday, court records show.

O’Leary, 31, had worked for the Martin County Sheriff’s Office 11 months before he was fired in January 2019 after the State Attorney’s Office noticed discrepancies in some of his drug arrests.

During his time as a deputy with the agency, O’Leary arrested 26 people accused of having drugs on them who either did not, or, who did not have the actual amount or type of drugs O’Leary said they did, according to his arrest warrant.

In total, he had 80 drug-related arrests, sheriff’s officials said. Ten people he arrested on drug-related charges were released from jail and their charges dropped in January 2019.

O’Leary was arrested in Tallahassee in July 2019 and brought to the Martin County Jail where he remained on a $1 million bond.

During a hearing Thursday, records show he entered pleas of no contest as charged to 50 felonies, including multiple counts of official misconduct, falsifying arrest affidavits and statements, tampering with evidence, false imprisonment, petty theft and battery.

He initially faced a maximum prison sentence of 196 years with a minimum of about 19 years, if convicted at trial.

Martin County Sheriff Will Snyder on Friday said “the entire criminal justice system is based on trust and integrity.”

“Deputy O’Leary’s fractured that trust,” Snyder said, “and it is my responsibility to do everything possible to prevent something like this from happening again.”

In January 2019, Snyder said the State Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office each completed separate investigations into all of O’Leary’s 80 drug arrests he made during his probation period working with the agency.

Months after O’Leary was fired, lab results from the Indian River Crime Laboratory showed substances that were the basis of 26 of his narcotics arrests were not drugs, but instead were substances such as crushed headache medicine, laundry detergent, mints and other legal items.

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