Embattled Professional Guardian Rebecca Fierle Arrested
Cha-Ching... witch has been cashn' in!
BY GREG ANGEL MARION COUNTY
PUBLISHED 7:30 PM ET FEB. 10, 2020 UPDATED 8:43 PM ET FEB. 10, 2020
OCALA, Fla. — Rebecca Fierle, the professional guardian ousted from hundreds of cases following the death of a ward in her care, is now facing charges.
Rebecca Fierle booked into jail in Marion County, where she lives
She's charged with aggravated abuse of an elderly person
One of the seniors in her care died last year after she ordered "DNR"
State agents arrested Fierle on Monday in Marion County, where she lives. Records show Fierle was booked into the Marion County Jail at about 6:30 p.m.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said that Fierle has been charged with aggravated abuse of an elderly person and neglect of an elderly person in connection to the death of Steven Stryker, a Brevard County man who died in her care last year.
Sources told Spectrum News the charges are related to a series of criminal investigations being conducted by FDLE and the Florida Attorney General’s Office. Those investigations are ongoing.
Fierle is expected to face a judge Tuesday for a first appearance hearing.
In July 2019, Orange County Judge Janet Thorpe first called Fierle’s conduct into question after the death of Stryker, a senior whom Thorpe appointed Fierle to care for as a professional guardian. The FDLE in its investigation said Fierle ordered a "do not resuscitate" order on Stryker against his wishes.
"Despite the wishes of the elderly man and those of his family and friends, Fierle-Santoian ordered his doctors not perform any life prolonging medical procedures saying she preferred 'quality of life versus quantity of life,' " agents said.
She also ordered Stryker's feeding tube capped, despite the man asking to continue being fed, FDLE said.
Thorpe accused Fierle in court filings of abusing her powers as a court-appointed guardian.
"She has executed numerous 'Do Not Resuscitate' (DNR) orders on many of the Wards under her supervision without family or court permission," Thorpe wrote. "She has been compensated as a Medicaid caseworker for her wards, having received payments from hospitals and other facilities without disclosure or court permission."
Following the July 11, 2019 emergency hearing in front of Thorpe, judges across Central Florida began to remove or accept Fierle's resignations in at least 450 guardianship cases.
Stryker’s family long accused Fierle and AdventHealth of improperly petitioning the court for guardianship in the first place.
Fierle is also the focus of two Orange County Comptroller investigations: one questioned Fierle’s handling of her wards' assets; the other uncovered evidence showing AdventHealth paid Fierle almost $4 million.
Spectrum News's investigation into the claims of neglect and failures within the state’s guardianship system prompted Florida Elder Affairs Secretary Richard Prudom and Gov. Ron DeSantis to take action. Prudom told Spectrum News that his office has been involved in crafting legislation to give more safeguards to seniors. That legislation is now pending in the Florida legislature for the 2020 session.