Youth Services International Suit from Whistleblowers who were Blackballed

WEST PALM BEACH – When County Commissioner Shelly Vana last year began gathering evidence of abuse and mismanagement at the Palm Beach County Juvenile Correctional Facility, she wasn’t acting alone.

Employees, concerned about the welfare of 118 teenage boys housed in the detention center, provided information that she credited with spurring Youth Services International to walk away from its multi-million-contract with the state to operate the facility. The company later bailed out on its lucrative contracts to operate seven other juvenile lockups around the state.

But two employees now say they paid a hefty price for helping Vana, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court.

Once the Sarasota-based Youth Services International learned Fredrick Robinson, of Belle Glade, and Jean Roc, of West Palm Beach, were reporting problems at the detention center, near the South Florida Fairgrounds, it suspended them without pay, trumped up allegations against them and ultimately fired them, according to the whistleblowers lawsuit filed by Jupiter attorney Christopher Copeland.