Former member Marci Elliott talks about her resignation from the Guardianship Examining Committee, which she says was prompted by Rebecca Fierle’s mistreatment
The state’s Office of Attorney General is investigating allegations of Medicaid fraud against Rebecca Fierle, the former professional guardian whose use of unauthorized “do not resuscitate” orders on incapacitated clients has embroiled Florida’s guardianship program.
Whitney Ray, a spokesman for Attorney General Ashley Moody, confirmed Thursday the office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit began investigating Fierle in July.
That month, a judge sought the court-appointed guardian’s removal from nearly 100 Orange County cases after finding Fierle “abused her authority” by filing DNRs on incapacitated clients, known as wards, without permission from the court or their families. Fierle has since resigned from all of her cases statewide.
The MFCU probe, which began in October 2018, initially targeted a health care facility, based on complaints about the financial exploitation of a combat veteran, Ray said. As the investigation progressed, Fierle, who was the veteran’s guardian, became a target of the probe.
“As of early July, Fierle is now a major focus of this ongoing MFCU investigation into Medicaid fraud and financial exploitation,” Ray said.
MFCU investigates “patient abuse, neglect, and exploitation in facilities receiving payments under the Medicaid program,” according to the attorney general’s website.
The MFCU investigation is separate from a criminal probe of Fierle’s actions as a guardian that is being conducted by the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Ray said.
That probe began after an investigation by the Okaloosa County Clerk of Circuit Court and Comptroller found one of Fierle’s wards, 75-year-old Steven Stryker, died at a Tampa hospital in May following Fierle’s refusal to remove a DNR order she filed against his wishes.
Fierle is not currently facing criminal charges. The former guardian and her attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Confirmation of the MFCU probe is not the first example of Fierle’s financial management of her wards coming under scrutiny. A review of 30 Orange County cases involving the guardian by the county’s comptroller identified potential conflicts of interest in her handling of wards’ assets.
Comptroller Phil Diamond’s office said Fierle may have entered into a contract with AdventHealth, whose patients later became her wards, an agreement that was not disclosed to the court. It also found she had hired people with whom she had a prior relationship to perform services for wards.