Make us your home page

Seminole Tribe's James Billie recovering from stroke

TAMPA — James Billie, the Seminole Tribe of Florida chairman who led the tribe to wealth through gaming operations, suffered a stroke early this month and has been on medical leave while rehabilitating.

Billie, 67, has missed one tribal council meeting since the stroke, but Seminole officials are hoping he will be back for a slate of meetings next week. He currently is recovering in Brighton, near Lake Okeechobee.

"I suspect he'll be back. Haven't heard anything different," said Jim Shore, tribal general counsel. "It's just too early and we don't know the extent of it so there's no need to be talking about any replacement or anything right now."

Shore said he did not know the specifics of Billie's stroke or condition.

At the tribe's last meeting, the remaining four council members appointed Andrew Bowers Jr., to chair the meeting. Shore said Billie's absence hasn't affected any of the tribe's gaming operations, including the Seminole Hard Rock Casino near Tampa.

"The tribe's been run forever and it can run on its own," Shore said. "All of our gaming operations are going and all of our operations departments are moving with their department heads. Things are still running as normal."

The Seminole Tribe of Florida, based in Hollywood, employs more than 12,000 through its government and its six gaming operations in the state.

Billie has served as tribe chairman for almost a quarter century. In 2003, he was impeached amid financial scandal but came back to reclaim the post in May during an election that swept out other long-entrenched tribal leaders.

Billie started a high-stakes bingo operation in 1979 that opened the door to the multi-billion dollar gaming industry run by American Indian tribes.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Justin George can be reached at (813) 226-3368 or

Seminole Tribe's James Billie recovering from stroke 02/28/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 3:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Higher Social Security payouts help Florida post a big jump in personal income

    Personal Finance

    Personal income grew 1.3 percent in Florida in the first quarter of this year, a four-way tie among all states for second-fastest growth behind Idaho.

  2. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and estranged wife Carole put Beach Drive condo on the market

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their Beach Drive condo on the market for $1.5 million.

    U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their Beach Drive condo in Parkshore Plaza on the market for $1.5 million. {Courtesy of Amy Lamb/Native House Photography]
  3. Trigaux: Task now is for Water Street Tampa to build an identity


    Adios, VinikVille! Hello Water Street Tampa.

    An aerial rendering of the $3 billion redevelopment project that Jeff Vinik and Strategic Property Partners plan on 50-plus acres around Amalie Arena.
[Rendering courtesy of Strategic Property Partners]
  4. Unlicensed contractor accused of faking death triggers policy change at Pinellas licensing board

    Local Government

    The unlicensed contractor accused of faking his death to avoid angry homeowners has triggered an immediate change in policy at the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board.

    Last year Glenn and Judith Holland said they paid a contractor thousands of dollars to renovate their future retirement home in Seminole. But when they tried to move in on Dec. 14, they said the home was in shambles and uninhabitable. They sent a text message to contractor Marc Anthony Perez at 12:36 p.m. looking for answers. Fourteen minutes later, they got back this text: "This is Marc's daughter, dad passed away on the 7th of December in a car accident. Sorry." Turns out Perez was still alive. Now the Hollands are suing him in Pinellas-Pasco circuit court. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  5. SeaWorld shares drop Monday to 2017 low after disclosure of federal subpoena


    The Orlando parent company of SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks saw its stock drop 3.5 percent Monday to $15.10, its lowest price of this year.

    Killer whales perform at Shamu Stadium at SeaWorld in Orlando in 2011, before public pressure was placed on the theme park company to curtail its orca shows.SeaWorld has since announced an end to the traditional killer whale entertainment  at its theme parks. [AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack]