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St. Johns Youth Academy employee arrested for credit card fraud, sheriff’s office says

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla — A man working with troubled youth has found himself in trouble.

66-year-old Joseph Oliver Warren, a vocational specialist for the Saint Johns Youth Academy, which is part of the state’s juvenile justice department, was arrested last week after a St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office report says he admitted to using someone’s card at an ATM.

The sheriff’s office says Warren went to a Publix ATM several times in July and August and withdrew close to $700.

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The police report says Warren later admitted to having used the credit card without the cardholder’s consent.’ A mother tells Action News Jax the cardholder is her son. She asked to remain anonymous to protect him.

“My son, he looked at this man as a pretty decent man,” she said. “He was like, ‘no, it can’t be true, it can’t be true.’ But it is; it’s heartbreaking for him.” She says her son had been working hard while in custody at the academy.

“He’s just like, ‘I just want my money back.’ He’s like, ‘I worked. I work at a fast-food restaurant, I worked for putting in overtime and stuff.’ And he’s like, ‘it’s not fair.’”

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That parent claims Warren had taken her son and some other teens to the bank to open accounts, but she said he intercepted her son’s card, using it for himself.

“He was on his shopping spree,” she added. Action News Jax Law & Safety Expert Dale Carson weighed in on the case: “He is supposed to be helping children who are having difficulties, working correctly in our communities... and yet they are being shown how to violate the law,” he said.

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The teen’s mom says the bank won’t reverse the charges on her son’s account, and she’s waiting to hear back from the youth academy. Action News Jax also reached out to the academy for Warren’s employment status and history. We’re waiting to hear back.

The teen’s mom says she’s disappointed by the whole situation. “These kids are trying to do better for themselves and for somebody that works there to turn around and do something to them, it makes no sense,” she said.

Records show Warren was released from jail on Friday.

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