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Guardian charged with stealing more than $500,000 from elderly man doesn't show up in court

Guardian resigns from all cases to avoid removal
Posted: 7:13 PM, Nov 20, 2019
Updated: 2019-12-16 12:52:35-05
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PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — A professional guardian charged with stealing more than $500,000 from an elderly man was a no-show in court on Wednesday.

Pinellas County Probate Judge Pamela Campbell issued a "show cause" order last Friday, requiring Traci Hudson to come to court to explain why she shouldn't be removed from more than two dozen guardianship cases in Pinellas and Pasco counties.

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But before the hearing, Hudson announced she resigned from all her cases and turned in her guardian registration to the state in the wake of her arrest for felony exploitation of a 92-year-old man.

Judge Campbell said all cases involving Hudson could also be under review.

“The Inspector General's Office and the sheriff's office -- they may be reviewing some of those. I don't know," said Judge Campbell. "But if there are any red flags that are brought to our attention, then we will address that at that point in time."

Deputies with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office arrested Hudson last Thursday, saying she misused $541,000 belonging to a man under her power of attorney. The investigation showed she bought NFL tickets to Bucaneers games, went on shopping sprees and purchased a nearly $600,000 home in just 10 months.

“That case that she was charged with is a power of attorney case, so totally different than our guardianship cases,” said Campbell.

The I-Team first introduced you to Hudson in February as we investigated one of her cases.

“It's one of my responsibilities to make sure we're spending her money effectively and carefully,” Hudson testified in a court hearing at the time.

During that hearing, Judge Campbell praised Hudson, known as Traci Samuel at the time.

“I know Ms. Samuel to be a good and professional guardian. She's on a number of cases I have,” said Campbell during that hearing.

Campbell had ordered Hudson to appear at the hearing Friday.

A court spokesperson says the judge will not issues a warrant for Hudson's failure to appear because she subsequently resigned from all her cases.

That wasn't the case with another embattled guardian Rebecca Fierle, who is under investigation for causing the death of a man under her care.

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In July, a Hillsborough County judge demanded Fierle obey a court order to appear -- even after resigning from her cases

Hudson remains free on a $250,000 bond.

Her attorney in the criminal case has issued a "not guilty" plea and requested a jury trial. Her arraignment date has not yet been set.

If you have a story you’d like the I-Team to investigate, email adam@abcactionnews.com