Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill fires back at elder-abuse injunction

Responding for the first time to explosive elder-abuse allegations against her, Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill claims in new court filings that those seeking to dislodge Hill’s power over an elderly constituent are the ones at risk of exploiting the woman, not Hill herself.

Hill is asking to have the court injunction levied against her last week dissolved, arguing that the 96-year-old woman’s vulnerable state leaves her in no position to change who has her power of attorney. Adriane Alexander, a Tampa woman, displaced Hill and gained power of attorney over the woman last month.

In court papers that led to the injunction and as part of a separate state investigation, Hill is accused of manipulating the woman, whom the Sentinel isn’t naming, by securing power of attorney less than two months after they met in early 2021. The papers say Hill drained the woman’s bank account of more than $100,000, has lived along with her son and his girlfriend in a house owned by the woman, and used the woman’s resources to help buy a home of her own. Hill allegedly spent the woman’s money on home improvements, vacations, a facelift, dental surgery and IV vitamin treatments.

Alexander also alleges Hill took advantage of the woman’s mental incapacity. Ironically, Hill makes a similar accusation in her response, saying the woman “lacks the capacity to enter into any agreements or contracts due to incapacity.” Hill does not, however, make any direct response to the allegations about her exploitation of the woman’s financial resources.

“Her ability to perform activities of daily living or to provide her own care or protection is impaired,” Hill’s filing reads. “This impairment is due to a mental and long-term physical disability or dysfunction, and other infirmities of aging.”

Hill’s filing cast doubt on Alexander’s relationship with the elderly woman, citing “information and belief.” It claims Alexander has no relationship with the woman, and isn’t knowledgeable about her needs. However, documents filed by Alexander and the elderly woman say Alexander has known the woman for her entire life, as a friend and the daughter of the woman’s college classmate.

An attorney representing Alexander and the elderly woman declined to comment.

Hill, who first took office in 2013, hasn’t been charged criminally in the matter. However, she’s been under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for more than a year.

A hearing over the injunction was initially scheduled for Wednesday, but has been rescheduled for April 5, records show.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, in Orlando for a bill signing Wednesday, said he is aware of the allegations against Hill, but said he’d wait until a decision was made on whether to charge her before taking any action.

“It only comes under my purview if a municipal elected official is indicted by a grand jury, then I would suspend,” DeSantis told reporters. ”If there’s not an indictment, my power of suspension doesn’t reach.”

It’s unclear if a grand jury is reviewing the allegations against Hill. The state attorney’s office didn’t respond to a question nor did an attorney for Hill.

A spokesperson for FDLE would only say its investigation was ongoing.

In granting the injunction, Circuit Judge Heather Higbee ordered Hill to leave the woman’s home and to have no contact with the woman.

Higbee wrote that the injunction was necessary to the woman’s safety because there was “an immediate and present danger of exploitation,” and a “likelihood of irreparable harm.”

In the FDLE affidavit dated March 7, the woman told investigators “she recalled signing some sort of document but did not understand it and would have never agreed to allow Hill to be a power of attorney” over her.

rygillespie@orlandosentinel.com