ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – There were ten separate instances dating back to 2013 in which a St. Johns County sheriff's sergeant misused his Police Athletic League debit card to pay for personal expenses, including NBA tickets, sunglasses and car repairs, according to his offense report released Thursday by the Sheriff's Office.
Sgt. Robert Gober III resigned amid an investigation that began in September when members of the county's PAL organization raised concerns that the children's nonprofit's money was being misused, the report said.
The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office's report on the investigation revealed many instances of confusion over how money was collected, counted and deposited into the league’s accounts. Investigators said there were many incidents in which there were "questionable" expenditures in the PAL accounts.
The criminal investigation found that Gober had purchased items for personal use in the amount of $1,302.89 using a PAL debit card, Sheriff David Shoar said.
Gober could face a criminal charge of organized scheme to defraud, according to Shoar.
Many in the community have known Gober for years, including a young man who grew up in PAL and was mentored and coached by Gober.
Ryan Aponte, 19, was a part of the PAL chapter from the very beginning and played flag football, tackle football and lacrosse. He told News4Jax Thursday that he can't believe the trustworthy man he looked up to as a leader would steal anything.
"It was just really surprising. I was shocked when I heard because it's something that I would never in a million years guess that he would be accused of," Aponte said. "He cared about the kids and their families, so this whole situation is really surprising."
In addition to the report on its investigation, the Sheriff's Office also released dozens of pages from Gober's file, which included letters of thanks and awards that he had received over the years.
Despite the accusations, Aponte said he still believes Gober is a good man who would help anyone.
"Coach Gober will always be the same coach that I knew that I grew up with and he has always been a good guy," Aponte said. "So I think he will always still be a loyal family friend and do anything for anyone that he knows."
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.
The findings of the investigation were sent to the State Attorney's Office, which will determine whether Gober will be arrested and charged.