32963 Homepage

Want to purchase reprints of your favorite 32963 or photos?

Copies of Vero Beach 32963 can be obtained at the following locations:


Our office HQ: (located at 4855 North A1A)
1. Corey's Pharmacy
2. 7-Eleven

(South A1A)
3. Major Real Estate Offices


1. Vero Beach Book

2. Classic Car Wash
3. Divine Animal
4. Sunshine Furniture

5. Many Medical

Two pension board trustees file suit against Indian River Shores and former town officials

STORY BY LISA ZAHNER (Week of August 12, 2021)

Two Indian River Shores Public Safety officers have filed suit against the town and former town officials, alleging that they and their jobs were unfairly targeted after a controversial vote they took in July 2019 as members of the public safety pension board.

The Public Safety Pension Board of Trustees is made up of two members selected by the town, one firefighter, one police officer and a fifth member selected by the other four members.

In 2019, Public Safety Sergeant William “Bart” Crosby served as the police officer and Firefighter-Medic Richard Villars served as the firefighter representing approximately 20 public safety employees in the pension plan.

In July 2019, Crosby and Villars were two of the members present who voted 4-0 to increase the assumed rate of return on the pension fund by half a percent, from 6.25 percent to 6.75 percent – a decision that provoked ire from certain council members, in part because the decision reduced the amount of money employees were required to pay into the pension plan.

Members of the town council discussed the matter at council meetings during the summer and fall of 2019, seeking some sort of remedy to what they saw as a bad fiscal decision. Villars and Crosby cite meeting minutes in their 24-page complaint as the basis for some of their allegations.

In addition, they cite state ethics complaints filed against them by former council member Dick Haverland. They say Haverland did not keep the complaints he filed confidential, but instead shared them with then-Town Manager Joe Griffin.

After Haverland’s complaints were dismissed in September 2020, Villars and Crosby say Griffin tried to get them fired, but neither Public Safety Director Chief Rich Rosell nor his deputy would fire Villars and Crosby.

The lawsuit, which names Haverland, Griffin and the late, former Mayor Tom Slater as parties, has not been served on the town or on any of the respondents yet, according to court records.

Town Manager Jim Harpring said last week “the town is not at liberty to comment at this time due to the litigation.” Rosell also said he could not comment for this article.

The first count of the lawsuit requests a declaratory judgment. “The Plaintiffs’ vote to increase the rate of return as a Trustee of the Board is protected from any form of employment retaliation under the Constitution of the State of Florida,” the complaint said, and the employees state that they have no other remedy than the court system for the damage they have suffered.

The last three counts of the lawsuit allege defamation from public statements made against the employees, malicious prosecution and torturous interference in the relationship the employees have with the town.

As it is a civil matter, the case has been assigned to Judge Janet Croom. Attorney Craig Rappel of Vero Beach is representing the plaintiffs. Indian River Shores’ new Town Attorney Pete Sweeney, who started work on Aug. 2, is expected to represent the Shores.