Guardianships under investigation

The Governor has told his agencies they have six months to come up with legislation and administrative actions to fix the problems with guardians.(Pixabay/Ulrich Joho)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - The state is investigating its own Office of Public and Private Guardianships following the opening of two criminal investigations into the conduct of an Orlando area court-appointed guardian, but some believe the alleged misconduct is an ongoing statewide problem.

FreeErnestine.com is Doug Franks' ode to his mother.

Franks fought the guardianship system for four and a half years trying to free his mother. She died in 2016, the same year Franks convinced lawmakers guardians need to be regulated.

“There is nothing that can make up for the time that I was deprived from my mom,” said Franks. “Nothing!”

Since the legislation took effect, the state has investigated 764 allegations. Both the Attorney General and Florida Department of Law Enforcement say they are investigating an Orlando guardian.

“We currently have an active investigation into Rebecca Fierle and her business and how she conducted her business,” said Jeremy Burns with FDLE.

Fierle resigned and withdrew from a hundred cases after she filed a do not resuscitate order against a client's wishes.

“And that’s just one of thousands, I'm sure, in the state of Florida that are doing the same thing,” said Franks.

Kathleen Zargaros of Tampa told us a similar story about her mother shortly after the law passed.

“She was forced into guardianship based on lies, then she was forced into hospice,” said Zargaros.

The Governor has also ordered a probe of the state office regulating guardians.

“And I told them to pursue it vigorously,” said Franks.

Doug’s mother Ernestine died 45 days after he won her freedom.

"We had a fantastic 45 days,” said Franks. "The day my mom passed was…is the best day of our lives.”

The Governor has told his agencies they have six months to come up with legislation and administrative actions to fix the problems with guardians.