ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - She was entrusted by the state to take care of the elderly and disabled - and to handle everything from their finances to their medical care.
But now, a Central Florida judge has ruled Rebecca Fierle, a court appointed guardian based in Orlando, abused her power, executing do not resuscitate orders on many of the wards under her supervision without family or court permission.
The notice for removal states Fierle also failed to disclose related interests and employees. It also claims she received payments from hospitals, all of which created a conflict of interest.
Kim Stryker who lives near Washington D.C. says her father was a victim.
"I'm very glad to hear that those people are safe from her now," Stryker said.
Stryker said her father, Steven, was receiving treatment in an Orlando hospital when he was placed under a guardianship without her knowledge and against the 74-year-old's will.
Court records show Fierle was the appointed guardian. Her website and Facebook page state she more than 20 years of professional experience in caring for the elderly and disabled. But the website has since been shut down.
News 6 went to Fierle's Orlando office, but no one was there - and neither she nor her attorney returned multiple calls and emails for comment.
Stryker even sent a letter to the court, stating her concerns and expressing her father's vocal opposition. However four days later, her father died.
She is one of a dozen family members who have reached out to News 6 complaining about Fierle, and who have complained to the state for action.
"When you trust the state to take care of people and they say they're going to do it, and they hire people and they make their living this way, they need to be held accountable," Stryker said. " And they need someone to be looking over their shoulder making sure they are doing the right thing."
On Friday evening, The Florida Department of Elder Affairs released this investigative report, which showed state investigators had researched the claims made by Stryker’s daughter. The report reveals there were three legally sufficient complaints about the state registered professional guardian, Fierle:
- The guardian has moved the ward to multiple assisted living facilities that do not meet the ward’s need for care or supervision, which has resulted in multiple hospitalizations.
- The guardian did not contact either of the ward’s children reguarding initiation of the guardianship.
- The ward has communicated that he wishes for life-saving actions to be taken should they be required, but the guardian has a DNR and has not agreed to remove it per the ward’s wishes.
The agency claims its investigation reveals both the first and third allegation were substantiated, but that the second allegation was unfounded. Read the report for yourself here.
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