Former Lee County Deputy Niko Irizarry worked with two others in the scheme, alleged the sheriff, who said drugs were planted in the man’s car.
A Florida sheriff’s deputy was fired and arrested after an investigation that alleged he took part in an effort to frame an innocent man, authorities said.
Former Lee County Sheriff’s Deputy Niko Irizarry, 25, was arrested Friday on a charge of felony official misconduct. He was terminated the same day after being placed on leave, Sheriff Carmine Marceno said.
The charge stems from a Dec. 16 arrest when Irizarry took a man into custody on narcotics charges, Marceno said at a news conference Friday.
Internal affairs received a complaint early last month that led the sheriff’s office to believe the arrest was unlawful. An investigation found that Irizarry conspired with two other men, Charles Custodio and Scott Snider, to arrest the victim because Custodio “had a personal hatred” for the victim, Marceno said.
Custodio is alleged to have obtained a large number of drugs and given them to Snider, Marceno said. Snider then posed as a real estate client and met up with the victim, who worked as a real estate broker, authorities said.
After Snider planted the drugs in the victim’s car, Custodio contacted Irizarry and provided the victim’s location so the deputy could make the arrest, Marceno said.
“The task force conducted a thorough investigation revealing an elaborate conspiracy to plant illegal drugs in the victim’s vehicle and arrange for a traffic stop on that vehicle after the drugs were planted,” Marceno said. “The task force utilized state-of-the-art technology … to reveal the true names of those involved to identify and access bogus email accounts and text messages.”
Irizarry and Custodio were arrested in Lee County, and Snider was arrested in Texas.
Custodio and Snider were both charged with trafficking in fentanyl, possession of a controlled substance and conspiracy, the sheriff said.
Attorney information was not available for either man.
The union representing the sheriff’s office declined to comment.
Marceno said Irizarry joined the office in 2018 and left briefly to go to another agency before he returned in 2020. He did not have any previous disciplinary actions with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.