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State Attorney Bernie McCabe to prosecute man accused of stalking Mark Ober

TAMPA — The governor's office has appointed a special prosecutor to handle the case of a man accused of trying to harm Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober.

Michael Wynperle, 36, of Wesley Chapel is charged with aggravated stalking and threatening to discharge a destructive device. He is being held without bail at Orient Road Jail.

Hillsborough sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said that on Aug. 4, Wynperle made five or more telephone calls to the State Attorney's Office, asking what the legal consequences would be if he punched a police officer or judge, or attacked Ober. He also threatened to blow up the State Attorney's Office, she said.

He made no secret of his identity, Carter said. Wynperle identified himself to three people who answered his phone calls. He was arrested in Pasco County the same day and transferred to Hillsborough County on Aug. 7 to face prosecution, she said.

Pam Bondi, assistant state attorney and spokeswoman for Ober's office, told a judge Thursday afternoon that she received notice at noon that Gov. Charlie Crist agreed to appoint Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe to prosecute Wynperle since Ober is considered the victim in this case.

Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Walter Heinrich said he suspects the entire case might need to be moved to another county because Wynperle is accused of threatening judges.

"Probably no judge in this county is going to deal with this case," Heinrich said.

The case will remain in Hillsborough for now, though.

McCabe's office is expected to file notice in Hillsborough Court that they will be prosecuting.

Meanwhile, Hillsborough judges will have to determine whether they should likewise recuse themselves from the case. If no judge agrees to hear the matter, the chief judge will have to determine whether to send it to another district.

This isn't the first time Wynperle has been accused of threatening public officials. In 2005, detectives said he admitted planning to put lime powder in Ober's car vents to blind him. And in 2008, Pasco prosecutors reviewed allegations that he was threatening his probation officers before he went to prison on unrelated charges.

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at rcatalanello@sptimes.com (813) 226-3383.

State Attorney Bernie McCabe to prosecute man accused of stalking Mark Ober 08/13/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 13, 2009 11:49pm]
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