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Former Florida guardian Rebecca Fierle jailed on aggravated abuse, neglect charges

Despite protests from a 75-year-old man's family, doctors and the man himself, Fierle ordered his feeding tube capped, the FDLE said. He died at a Tampa hospital.

MARION COUNTY, Fla. — Former Florida guardian Rebecca Fierle, who has been accused of placing "do not resuscitate" orders on clients without their permission, was arrested.

She faces a count of aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult and neglect of an elderly person or disabled adult, according to online records from the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies arrested Fierle, 50, on a warrant issued by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, according to a news release. 

The Orlando Sentinel reports Fierle's arrest stems from the case of 75-year-old Steven Stryker, who died in May 2019 at a Tampa hospital. The FDLE investigated claims he did not want a "do not resuscitate" order and he had stated, many times, that he wanted to live.

RELATED: Cremated remains of 9 people found in office of embattled Florida guardian

RELATED: FDLE investigates guardian accused of filing 'do not resuscitate' orders without permission

Fierle, who was his guardian, ordered his doctors not to perform any life-prolonging procedures, the FDLE said.

"Medical professionals who examined him believed he was capable of making end-of-life medical decisions for himself and informed [Fierle] that her client had a strong desire to live and that he understood his condition," the FDLE said in a statement. The Sentinel reported his daughter, health-care surrogate and psychiatrist also protested.

But "despite the wishes of the elderly man and those of his family and friends, [Fierle] ordered his doctors not perform any life prolonging medical procedures saying she preferred 'quality of life versus quantity of life.'"

Stryker also wanted to continue receiving nutrition through a feeding tube. Fierle allegedly ignored this request and doctors' advice, who told her that by doing so, he would die.

She received an order to cap the tube, which was done on May 9, 2019, according to the FDLE. 

Stryker died on May 13.

"All I can say is that this is extremely emotional for me. I’ve waited a long time to see her held accountable for how she treated my father," said the daughter of Stryker, Kim Stryker, to WKMG-TV.

The case remains under investigation by the FDLE, Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office.

Shortly after Stryker's death, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called for an investigation into Florida's guardianship program. At the time, the state had more than 550 public and private guardians, overseen by the Department of Elder Affairs, who control the lives of thousands of people who are considered unable to run their day-to-day lives. This includes any financial or medical decisions.

Under Florida law, a judge can appoint a guardian for minors and adults who have mental or physical disabilities.

In July 2019, Fierle resigned from 450 guardianships in 16 counties the same day the FDLE began a criminal investigation.

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