Embattled Orlando guardian didn't report $99k paid by Seminole facility, report finds

Similar unreported payments made by AdventHealth totaled $4 million

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. - Similar to $4 million in unreported payments made by AdventHealth to embattled Orlando guardian Rebecca Fierle, another investigation found she also did not report nearly $100,000 in payments from an assisted living facility in Altamonte Springs.

Fierle failed to submit nearly the payments from the assisted living facility to the court that appointed her to watch over at least six patients living there, according to one of two investigations completed by the Okaloosa County Department of Inspector General.  The name of the facility was redacted from the investigative report obtained by News 6.

Fierle, a state guardian, was removed from nearly 100 guardianship cases in July after she was accused of filing "do not resuscitate" orders on behalf of clients without their permission. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement opened an investigation into Fierle days after she resigned from more than 40 guardianship cases in Seminole, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Under Florida law, a judge appoints guardians for minors and adults with mental or physical disabilities, allowing them to make financial and medical decisions.

A complaint was submitted to Office of Public and Professional Guardians in October 2017 alleging that Fierla was receiving direct payments from the assisted living facility in Altamonte Springs. The complaint was forwarded to the Department of Inspector General on April 2 to investigate.

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The social services director at the facility said he had paid Fierle for providing services to residents.

In late 2016, Fierle was questioned about her billing practices. The facility executive director told Fierle that the invoices "seemed to be excessive," according to the investigation, and her wards still had significant outstanding bills.

The executive director told Fierle she would need "to find other facilities for her wards and not to place any more wards at (the facility)."

Between 2008 and 2015, the assisted living facility paid Fierle $99,000.66. Those payments were not reported or disclosed to the court in any guardianship cases, according to the investigation.

Fierle also received six checks with funds belonging to her wards who either left the facility or died, the report found. Those check amounts were redacted from the report. There was no evidence that the payments from the facility to Fierle were returned to her ward's estate.

The inspector general referred the case to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement after finding probable cause that criminal activity occurred.

A second investigation by Okaloosa County Department of Inspector General found that Fierle unnecessarily restricted a ward's ability to communicate with friends and family and restricted their ability to visit him.

The last investigations into Fierle's activities were recently closed, according to the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, which oversees the statewide guardianship program.

"There are no additional open investigations into Fierle at this time," a spokesperson said.

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