Man locked in Alzheimer's unit by court-appointed guardian is now free

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. - A man who the I-Team first reported was locked up in an Alzheimer's unit by his court appointed guardian, despite evidence he didn't belong there, just had his rights restored by a judge.

The I-Team first reported the story of Willie Berchau back in September. Berchau had twice been declared incapacitated by the court and was locked up in an Alzheimer's unit at the request of his court-appointed guardian.

His friends and supporters who believed he didn't belong there contacted ABC Action News. Berchau was frustrated with the system. "We have a free society," he said. "I have no rights to decide where I like to live and makes the few days I have left to live so miserable and uncomfortable," said Berchau.

After the interview aired, that all changed. A doctor found that he is capable of exercising all of his rights and recommended that he be discharged from  his court-ordered guardianship and be free to live where he wants.

Berchau's guardian had been opposed to him having his rights restored, saying his condition had actually worsened, but she later withdrew her objection.

Now, a judge has signed an order restoring all of Berchau's rights and ordered his money to be promptly returned to him.

Special coverage from the I-Team- Incapacitated: Florida's Guardianship Program:

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