Suspended Orlando commissioner ordered to stay away from woman she’s accused of defrauding

Apr 6, 2024, 8:46 AM

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A judge on Friday permanently ordered an Orlando city commissioner to stop interacting with a 96-year-old constituent that she is legally accused of defrauding.

Circuit Judge Heather Higbee ordered the injunction in a civil case against Regina Hill, who was indicted last month on charges of elderly exploitation, identity fraud and mortgage fraud for the same actions.

Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Hill from the Orlando City Commission on Monday. A special election will determine a replacement for Hill, who is in her third term, while her criminal case is ongoing.

The 63-year-old Hill invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when called to the stand Friday, local news outlets reported. Afterward, she told reporters, “I’m trusting the process. And I’m trusting God, still.”

Testimony Friday revealed new details in the case, with Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent Steve Brenton testifying that Hill obtained a fraudulent power of attorney over the woman’s affairs. Brenton testified that Hill’s son, a former aide, and a notary — who all supposedly witnessed the document — told Brenton in interviews that they had never signed.

Among Hill’s spending, according to Brenton’s testimony as reported by the Orlando Sentinel, were a $139 a month membership to a medical spa specializing in vitamin infusions and a $2,850 facelift.

The woman later transferred her power of attorney from Hill to a family friend, Adriane Alexander of Tampa. Alexander claimed in court papers that Hill spent $100,000 of the woman’s savings on herself, buying expensive perfumes, clothing, rental cars and hotel stays.

“Now we’re going to make sure that (the alleged victim) is taken care of for the rest of her life,” said John Martino, a Community Legal Services attorney for Alexander. “We can be rest assured now that Ms. Hill isn’t going to get back in and will not be able to access those accounts anymore.”

Other testimony showed Hill helped arrange in-home care, bought groceries and cleaned up the woman’s home.

Ebony Rumph Maxwell said the home was in “scary” shape before Hill became involved, covered in feces and with wasps inside, but improved later on.

And Nicole Benjamin, who is representing Hill in the civil case, said Hill only acted to benefit the woman.

“She was happy, she was taken care of, she was loved and she knew it,” said Benjamin, who told reporters before the hearing that the case was not an investigation against Hill “but an assassination of her character.”

The injunction prevents Hill from living at either of the homes the woman owns and a third property the two own together.

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Suspended Orlando commissioner ordered to stay away from woman she’s accused of defrauding