Florida Governor Suspends Orlando City Official in Wake of Alleged Financial Exploitation of 96-year-old

Florida Governor Suspends Orlando City Official in Wake of Alleged Financial Exploitation of 96-year-old

Days after being charged with embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a 96-year-old woman to cover cosmetic procedures, lodging, and other personal expenses, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suspended Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill with an executive order.

“Today, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 24-63, suspending City Commissioner for the City of Orlando, Regina Hill, in accordance with the Florida Constitution and sections 112.51(1) and 112.51(2), Florida Statutes,” the governor’s office stated in a news statement.

Seven felony charges, including three counts of elder abuse, two counts of fraudulent use of personal identification, one offense of mortgage fraud, and one case of plotting to defraud over $50,000, were brought against Hill after her indictment last week.

“[B]y order of the governor, any elected municipal officer indicted for crime may be suspended from office until acquitted and the office filled by appointment for the period of suspension, not to extend beyond the term, unless these powers are vested elsewhere by law or the municipal charter,” the Florida Constitution states, and this is what DeSantis’ office cited.

DeSantis had hinted at the possibility of a suspension before to Hill’s indictment.

Speaking on the accusations made against Hill, the governor said, “This is a target-rich environment, this state, for exploitation because you have a lot of seniors and a lot of seniors who are retired and have some income.”

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) claims that Hill met the 96-year-old woman in March 2021, obtained power of attorney over her a month later, and took advantage of her financially for around three years.

On March 28, FDLE Orlando Special Agent in Charge John Vecchio stated in the agency’s news release “The public’s trust in its leaders is essential. Officials who commit crimes against those they represent will be investigated and held accountable. I commend our agents and partners whose work helps ensure that the people of Central Florida are protected.”

According to the FDLE, the commissioner is also charged with deceitfully acquiring a second power of attorney in order to purchase a house for more than $400,000 without the 96-year-old woman’s knowledge or approval.

“As I navigate through these challenging times, I want to assure the residents of District 5 that our team’s commitment to your needs and well-being stands firm,” Hill said in a statement distributed Monday evening via the district community email. The office is still open and completely furnished to offer you the assistance you require.

“My confidence in the integrity of the legal process and faith in God is unwavering, and I’m deeply moved by the support from our community,” Hill further added. “This support is a constant reminder of the strength and resilience that defines District 5, and it fuels my continued dedication to serving and uplifting every community member through these trying times. I will wait for my day in court when I’ll be able to prove my innocence and that I always acted in good faith.”