Robert Standeford sued sheriff’s office claiming he was a whistleblower

Former Wakulla deputy Robert Standeford


Former Wakulla deputy sheriff Robert Standeford’s whistleblower lawsuit was dismissed last week.
Standeford had claimed in his 2021 lawsuit against the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office that he had made verbal and written complaints to his supervisors about his mistreatment and school safety issues. He claimed that because of his whistleblowing, he was moved from a position at Youth and Community Services to a school resource officer – which Standeford claimed in his lawsuit was a demotion as punishment.

In a 9-page order issued on Friday, Feb. 16, Wakulla Circuit Judge Layne Smith granted summary judgment to the sheriff’s office and found that the dismissal of Standeford by Sheriff Jared Miller was warranted both by Standeford lying in a trial and his lies about his military service – either of which was grounds for termination.
(Standeford was given the option to resign rather than be terminated.)
Additionally, the state attorney’s office under then-Chief Prosecutor Brian Miller had written a Giglio memo on Standeford after filing felony perjury charges on him. A Giglio memo notes a law enforcement officer’s lack of credibility as a witness for past lies. The judge in his order noted the Giglio memo on Standeford “compromises his ability to serve as a deputy sheriff.”
Standeford attorney Marie Mattox argued at a recent hearing her client’s treatment was notably different from how the sheriff’s office handled Deputy Colton Sheridan, who resigned after an internal affairs investigation found he lied about justifications for traffic stops and arrests.
(The Sun wrote about Deputy Sheridan in a front-page story, “Questions about deputy” on Oct. 19, 2023.)
Judge Smith noted in his order that both deputies were investigated for untruthfulness, but “the court rejects the argument that because the sheriff did not fire Deputy (Sheridan) for lying, he cannot fire another deputy for lying. Two wrongs do not make a right.”
The sheriff’s office began investigating Standeford after then-Undersheriff Billy Jones received a complaint from a member of the public that Standeford was claiming he was a Marine. Jones had been under the impression that Standeford had served in the Marine Corps and initiated an internal affairs investigation.
In March 2021, when Standeford was informed of the investigation and suspended with pay, as an inventory of equipment and personal effects from his patrol vehicle was being done, a Certificate of Honor was found for “Robert Standeford United States Marines.”
Standeford told internal affairs that he was not a Marine and denied telling others he was a Marine.

Investigators interviewed six other deputies who worked with Standeford who said he told them he was a Marine.
Internal affairs also became aware of Standeford’s testimony at an administrative hearing – Michael Grasso vs. St. Marks Stone Crab Festival over access of a service animal to a festival – in which Standeford falsely testified he had been overseas working with Muslims, had responded to the 9/11 terrorist attack, suffered from PTSD because of his 9/11 assignment, had instructed Marine Corps and Army personnel on protected nuclear weapons, and had a service dog to assist with his PTSD.
In April 2021, a probable cause affidavit was submitted to the state attorney’s office for felony perjury for Standeford’s testimony at the Grasso hearing. The state filed charges against Standeford but ultimately dropped them after the trial court found that Standeford’s “statements, while false, were not sufficiently material to support a conviction for perjury.”
In his lawsuit, Standeford claimed he was retaliated against because he reported problems with a lack of adequate weapons for school resource officers, and was then involuntarily transferred.
The sheriff argued that the transfer was purely lateral, that Standeford voluntarily resigned, and there is no connection with any report of problems by Standeford.
Judge Smith signed the order on Feb. 14.