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Embattled professional guardian accused of causing death resigns from 40 cases

Judge removed her from 98 cases over DNR order
Posted: 3:33 PM, Jul 23, 2019
Updated: 2019-12-16 13:28:44-05
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TAMPA, Fla. -- A professional guardian suspected of causing the death of a man who the court appointed her to care for has resigned from dozens of cases.

Last week, the I-Team reported Florida professional guardian Rebecca Fierle was removed by a judge from nearly 100 cases in Orange and Oscelola counties.

Now, the I-Team has learned she has resigned from more than 40 other guardianship cases in Seminole, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

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In the first two counties, judges scheduled emergency hearings, but Fierle resigned before those hearings were held.

A judge assigned a court monitor in Pinellas County in one of Fierle's cases and she subsequently resigned.

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Fierle's ward Steven Stryker died at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa after his guardian ordered his feeding tube removed and signed a do-not-resuscitate order.

A state report prepared for the Florida Office of Public and Professional Guardians regarding Stryker’s death quoted a doctor saying "the ward wanted to be resuscitated and wanted to be alive... Fierle's reasons for the DNR were not rational" and noted Fierle does not have a healthcare background.

“Wow. My hat's off to that brave judge,” said Dr. Angela Woodhull.

A decade ago, Fierle was appointed to be a guardian for Woodhull's mother.

“I never saw my mother ever again. The next time I saw her was when she was dead because they even had an order of protection where I wasn't allowed to see me mother,” said Woodhull.

According to a recent investigative report, Fierle has been appointed to care for 450 people in 13 Florida counties.

The I-Team learned Fierle resigned Thursday from 40 cases in Hillsbourgh, Pinellas and Seminole counties.

Woodhull sued Fierle and her attorneys in federal court, alleging Fierle neglected her mother and financially exploited her.

“They had her with no water. They put a feeding tube in her stomach, which she didn't need,” said Woodhull.

Woodhull said she spent four years investigating Fierle after her mother’s death and reported her concerns to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, then Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, the FBI, U.S. Attorney General Lorretta Lynch, Gov. Rick Scott and other officials.

Woodhull said she thinks it’s a shame someone had to die for officials to hold Fierle accountable.

“This is the United States of America. It does sound unbelievable. It sounds unreal, but this is the truth. And it's not just my story. This isn't a unique story,” said Woodhull.

Rebecca Fierle has twice received letters of concern from the Florida Office of Public and Professional Guardians.

“Protecting vulnerable adults from harm is our utmost priority,” said Richard Prudom, secretary for the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, which oversees OPPG.

“Upon receiving these troubling complaints against Ms. Fierle, we immediately forwarded it for investigation. We are continuing to do everything possible under the laws to hold Ms. Fierle accountable for her actions,” said Prudom.

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