ORLANDO, Fla. — Just a day after Spectrum News 13 learned about the resignation of the director of Florida's guardianship program, Gov. Ron DeSantis says officials will "vigorously" investigate it.
- DeSantis says guardianship program will be "vigorously" investigated
- Program's director stepped down with 1-sentence resignation letter
The Orange County case involving court-appointed guardian Rebecca Fierle thrust concerns about the program to the forefront of headlines in recent weeks.
Fierle was recently removed as guardian for almost 100 seniors in Orange and Osceola counties and 40 cases in Seminole. A judge said Fierle abused her powers by filing “do not resuscitate” orders on behalf of seniors without their approval or permission from family members and the court.
Then, a day after Fierle’s court case, Carol Berkowitz, who oversees Florida's 550 professional guardians, abruptly resigned. Her one-sentence resignation letter didn't give a reason for her departure.
“We are obviously concerned with some of the reports, and (Department of Elder Affairs) Secretary (Richard) Prudom is pursuing it, and I told him to pursue it vigorously,” DeSantis said Wednesday.
The governor also called for possible changes in the law, saying he is ready to do whatever is necessary to see that problems within the state guardianship program are addressed.
“There is going to be action taken, whether it is administratively or legislative, or a combination. Something needs to be done,” DeSantis said.
"This one individual, there may be some serious legal consequences," he said about the cases involving Fierle. "Holding people accountable when they do things like that to me sends a very strong signal that that was unacceptable conduct."
The governor did not give insight into Berkowitz’s resignation.
Fierle is not currently facing criminal charges. Attorneys for Fierle have filed notices of resignation for eight cases in Volusia County. A hearing is scheduled for later this month.