Former Top Florida Law Enforcement Official Sues DeSantis Over Alleged Retaliation

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File Photo Source: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File

As reported by ABC News, a former high-ranking official within Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has initiated legal action against Governor Ron DeSantis and his senior aides, accusing them of forcing his retirement after he refused to execute what he claims were illegal orders. Shane Desguin, who served as the FDLE's chief of staff, asserts that his compelled retirement in November was, in reality, a “wrongful termination.”

The allegations suggest retaliation for his whistleblowing on various “unlawful, improper and illegal practices,” including breaches of state public records laws, unlawful orders to arrest demonstrators without probable cause, and instructions to collect personal information from migrants without legal grounds. His attorney, Marie Mattox, emphasized that Desguin faced "disparate treatment" and a “different standard” after reporting these alleged misconducts.

Desguin's accusations date back to late 2021, when he was directing the FDLE’s Office of Statewide Intelligence. He was tasked with new responsibilities related to migrants being flown to Florida by the federal government. Desguin alleges that he was ordered by DeSantis, through senior officials, to collect “photographs, biometric data, and any other pertinent information by engaging with migrants at the airport,” despite there being no criminal predicate or reasonable suspicion to justify such actions. Desguin consistently raised legal concerns about these directives, highlighting their potential unlawfulness.

The situation escalated in September 2023, when a senior aide to DeSantis allegedly instructed Desguin to make arrests at a demonstration of “neo-Nazis” in Orlando, purportedly for political advantage. Desguin reportedly objected, arguing that arrests could not be made solely based on individuals expressing their views. However, despite his objections, arrests were still carried out.

Desguin’s legal troubles culminated in a contentious debate over the release of FDLE records related to the governor’s travel during his presidential campaign. Desguin alleges that DeSantis’ refusal to release these records violated Florida's public records law. When an agency lawyer, who agreed with Desguin’s assessment, threatened to resign over the issue, tensions heightened. Allegedly, Governor DeSantis and his team instructed FDLE to keep the records concealed and obstructed the lawyer's promotion because of their disagreement. In response, Desguin authorized a raise for the lawyer, defying orders from the governor’s office, which subsequently led to his suspension and alleged forced retirement.

The lawsuit names both Governor DeSantis and the FDLE as defendants and seeks unspecified damages. It claims violations of Florida’s public records laws, wrongful termination, and retaliation against a whistleblower. According to Desguin, he was formally notified of his departure from the FDLE with a statement indicating “Retired. Not involving misconduct,” which contrasts with the allegations of internal misconduct used to justify his termination.

Nina Richards
Nina Richards
Nina earned her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Brandman University, laying the foundation for her interest in and understanding of human behavior. She works full-time at Law Commentary and is dedicated to merging her passion for pop culture with legal insights. Combining her analytical skills and interest in staying updated on trends, she strives to deliver pop culture legal news, bridging the gap between law and contemporary society.
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