robert_merkel_3.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE – A veteran Fort Lauderdale officer has been arrested and fired after allegedly falsifying a police report.

Former Police Officer Robert Merkel, 45, has been charged with one count of official misconduct, a felony, and one count of falsifying official records, a misdemeanor, records show.

The exact circumstances surrounding Merkel’s arrest remain unclear, but sources close to the investigation – who requested that their names not be published – told the South Florida Times that the case centers on cash that Merkel allegedly seized from a suspect, but did not properly document.

“I’ve talked to them [prosecutors], and basically they believe some information contained in a police report to be false,” said Fort Lauderdale attorney Michael Dutko, who is representing Merkel.

Dutko said he has not yet received background materials on the case.

Of Merkel’s termination from the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, Dutko said, “I’m not involved in that. I’m just representing him in the criminal case.”

Kim Fontana, assistant to Broward State Attorney’s Office spokesman Ron Ishoy, confirmed the arrest, but declined to discuss details of the case.

Merkel was arrested on May 29. City officials and union representatives said they learned of the arrest when a reporter contacted them.

 “I’ve been out of town, and I haven’t seen or heard anything about this,” said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle, who is in Boston for a League of Cities convention. “I just don’t have any details in order to comment.”

 “I was not aware of any arrest,” said a surprised Jack Lokiensky, president of the Fraternal Order of Police union that represents Merkel. “I thought the investigation was still pending.”

 “I was not aware of his arrest, but will do what I can to get any information on it,” city spokesman Chaz Adams said.

 According to records on file with the Broward County Clerk of Courts, Merkel faces arraignment before Broward Circuit Judge Martin J. Bidwill on June 30.

Pictured above is former Fort Lauderdale Police Officer Robert Merkel.