Putnam Co. detective fired for alleged stalking

Internal investigation led to charges of stalking


PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – A detective with the Putnam County Sheriff's Office was terminated Friday after he allegedly stalked his former girlfriend, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Jeff Hardy terminated Det. John Merchant on Friday following an administrative investigation. An internal affairs investigation was ordered by Sheriff Hardy after learning that Merchant's former girlfriend filed for and was granted a temporary injunction for protection against repeated violence.

The administrative investigation came after a conducted criminal investigation.

The investigation revealed that over a 53-day period, Merchant sent multiple text messages to his former girlfriend, after being told repeatedly to stop, the sheriff's office said.

In addition to sustaining the criminal charge of stalking, the administrative investigation also revealed that Merchant violated the Sheriff's Office Code of Ethics and the following disciplinary standards: Conduct unbecoming an officer, harassment or discrimination and a gross violation of Sheriff's Office standards of conduct.  

"I am disappointed to lose a veteran detective like John, but I am committed to maintaining a professional organization," Sheriff Hardy said. "We continue to demand high standards and expect every employee to meet them."