Former Orange County commissioner released from prison

Mildred Fernandez serves sentence on corruption charge

Mildred Fernandez.
Mildred Fernandez.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Former Orange County Commissioner Mildred Fernandez is a free woman.

Fernandez, a prominent politician turned prisoner, was released from a Tampa-area prison Monday after being convicted on corruption charges.

Fernandez stunned Central Florida when she was caught on camera in an undercover video taking a bribe.

Now, Local 6 is learning what life was like locked up for more than a year and a half, and what is next for her when she is released.

"I lost my job, I have lost all my retirement savings and, most important, I lost my place in the community," said Fernandez in 2012.

"What she's going to do with the rest of her life is still in question," said her attorney, Anthony Suarez.

When asked if politics were in her future, Suarez responded, "Well, no, it will not be politics, definitely not."

The downfall for Fernandez came when she was caught taking bribes at her campaign headquarters during her mayoral run. She served time, first at a maximum security prison, and for the past year at a work-release center.

"She became sort of like a mom at the jail where people were coming to her for advice, like how to straighten up their lives," said Suarez.

Suarez says Fernandez, however, is still very bitter, and even points to the most recent texting scandal involving some current Orange County commissioners who had to pay fines for breaking an open records law.

"I think she wants to say to the people that whatever mistakes she made, she never made with any criminal intent. Of course, she wants to get back into life," said Suarez.

Fernandez will now be on probation.

Suarez says Fernandez will most likely live in Tampa with family and hinted at a possible book with letters she's been writing in jail.