Sheriff: Sergeant spent children's nonprofit funds on trips, gifts, alcohol

St. Johns County Sgt. Robert Gober III resigns amid 2 investigations

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A St. Johns County sheriff's sergeant resigned amid an investigation into accusations that he spent Police Athletic League funds on items for his personal use, Sheriff David Shoar announced Wednesday evening.

Sgt. Robert Gober III is facing a criminal charge of organized scheme to defraud.

Gober, who had been involved with the county’s PAL organization for nearly a decade and most recently served as its executive director, was removed from the position and separated from the agency.

News4Jax was told that when Gober joined, the organization was helping 50 children, but now allows more than 1,000 middle school-aged children to participate in sports, such as football, basketball and karate.

Detectives began investigating a few months ago after Sheriff's Office employees noticed some PAL funds were not being accounted for, Shoar said in a news release.

Shoar said he immediately called for an investigation. At that time, Gober was placed on administrative leave and removed from PAL.

The investigation revealed numerous questionable charges ranging from hotel rooms for PAL trips, gift cards, and dinners where alcohol was served to a limited and select number of volunteers, according to Shoar.

Investigators said they also learned that Gober was collecting funds from event registrations and concession stand purchases without documenting the amounts of money.

The criminal investigation found that Gober had purchased items for personal use in the amount of $1,302.89 using a PAL debit card, Shoar said. Some of the purchased items included sunglasses, a vehicle repair bill, bike repairs, tickets to a NBA basketball game, fantasy football league purchases and custom-made calendars.

“The Police Athletic League in St. Johns County has been one of the best programs the Sheriff’s Office has ever been involved with. It is a cost effective sports program for our youth and has been a positive influence for several decades," Shoar said. "We will continue to treat it as part of our family of community programs and will continue to support it and to devote sufficient resources to it."

The criminal investigation was followed by an internal review, which revealed Gober committed numerous policy violations, Shoar said.

"Our folks recognized a potential problem and reported it and after determining there was culpability, we held the person accountable and we put in place additional financial control measures that will hopefully keep this kind of problem from ever occurring again," Shoar said.

The findings were sent to the State Attorney's Office. A panel will review the case and determine whether Gober will ever be able to be a law enforcement agent again.