Friday, March 29, 2024

Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill arrested, faces charges of elderly exploitation, mortgage fraud

Florida authorities say case is still active

Daniel Dahm, Digital Content Manager
Treasure Roberts, Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla.Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill was arrested Thursday on several charges, including exploitation of the elderly/disabled, impersonation, scheme to defraud and mortgage fraud.

Hill, 58, is accused of exploiting a 96-year-old woman and taking more than $100,000 from her, according to an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Hill was booked into jail on seven charges. During her first appearance Thursday, a judge said her $40,000 bond was already posted, and she was to have no contact with the victim or any witnesses. Hill left the jail Thursday afternoon.

“Mrs. Hill effectively betrayed the trust of her community by taking advantage of a 96-year-old elderly citizen, which is one of the most vulnerable in that community,” said FDLE Assistant Commissioner Lee Massie. “A victim who was the last of her family in the area was manipulated and lied to, her finances and personal information misused and abused for Hill’s personal benefit. Obviously extremely tragic.”

Court documents uncovered by News 6 show that FDLE was investigating whether Hill established a power of attorney over the woman and secured a mortgage for a home in the Lake Mann Estates area of Orlando, without the woman’s knowledge.

Investigators believe Hill’s son and his girlfriend live in the home, while Hill resides in a home in the Washington Shores neighborhood that once belonged to the elderly woman’s parents — and was not paying rent.

According to the documents, Hill also allegedly used more than $100,000 of the woman’s cash and credit cards to buy perfume, clothing, IV vitamins, a facelift, a trip to Miami, dental surgery and car insurance.

“What we can speak about and what we know from the interviews and what we’re allowed to say today is that the victim in this case was not aware of how much she had signed over to Commissioner Hill,” said FDLE Orlando Special Agent John Vecchio.

The FDLE documents show the agency received a tip last year from a former aide of Hill’s who had been fired from their job. The case is still active, according to Massie, as they await further tasks from the state attorney’s office.

The documents were part of a petition filed by the woman’s attorneys to keep Hill away from the woman’s finances and properties.

A judge issued a temporary injunction last week.

FDLE says they have no evidence at this time of any other victims.

Vecchio also said that while the evidence shows Hill met the victim through her work as Orlando city commissioner, none of the charges against her involved her office.

“The charges today have to do with her acting as a citizen, not in her official capacity,” Vecchio said. “So we need to stay focused on these crimes. She is charged because of what she did as a person.”

The city of Orlando on Thursday said it was aware of the arrest of Hill, who has been re-elected twice and is currently in her third term, which ends in 2026.

When asked about Hill’s future as a commissioner, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s office said in a statement, “We do not have any authority to discipline an elected official, including suspending them from office, as that power lies with the governor.”

If Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis were to suspend Hill, the city would work with the Supervisor of Elections to hold a special election to temporarily fill the District 5 city commission seat.

Before Hill was elected in 2014, Hill had been in and out of jail on a variety of charges, including possession of marijuana in 2005, when she was sentenced to six months of probation. In 2000, Hill was found guilty of disorderly intoxication.

Hill also was also arrested multiple times in Orange County on charges of possession of illegal substances, although many of those charges were dropped.

News 6 spoke with Raymond Traendly, a partner at TK Law, who commented on what cases like these entail.

“When you sign a power of attorney, you’re allowing a third party to act as your agent. That person as your agent has what’s called a fiduciary obligation,” Traendly explained. “That fiduciary obligation requires you to make sure you put the person whom you’re protecting’s needs first... When you’re paying for plastic surgery, buying a house that you’re living in and you’re residing, and you’re not making the best use of your funds, you are violating that legal duty.”

According to Traendly, Hill has a few routes to work with in terms of a legal defense.

“Ms. Hill’s best defense is (going to) be somehow establishing a paper trail showing that she was properly communicating with the victim, notifying her of what the charges were and obviously if there’s anything in writing that she was given permission to use these funds for her own personal use. That is going to be her best defense,” he said.

Full Article & Source:
Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill arrested, faces charges of elderly exploitation, mortgage fraud

See Also:
Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill accused of financial exploitation of 96-year-old woman

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