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Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe recovers from “adverse health event”

The longtime top prosecutor said he has been working from home and will return to his courthouse office soon.
State Attorney Bernie McCabe, right, has been working from home after suffering an "adverse health event." [Times (2018)]
State Attorney Bernie McCabe, right, has been working from home after suffering an "adverse health event." [Times (2018)]
Published Feb. 26, 2020

Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe has been out of the office recovering from an “adverse health event” he suffered while undergoing medical tests in the hospital.

McCabe, 72, would not disclose the exact nature of the “event." The prosecutor said this week he has been working from home and would be back in his office soon.

“If you talk to people, I’m communicating with them," he told the Tampa Bay Times by phone Tuesday. "I answer their questions, I make decisions, I do everything I’m supposed to do. They just don’t get to see my smiling face.”

McCabe is running for re-election, seeking his eighth term in office. He is currently running unopposed.

He said his health will have “no impact” on his re-election bid.

Rumors about his health — including one that said he had collapsed — have swirled through the bay area legal community in recent weeks. In an interview last week, McCabe said he did not collapse but “tripped and fell.”

This week, he described the incident as something that occurred when he went in for medical tests after returning from a November cruise. It was during these tests, he said, that he suffered the “adverse health event." He has been undergoing physical therapy.

He would not say exactly when the event happened or how long he has been out of the office.

“I’m recovering from that and working from home and anticipate that I will be coming back to the office very shortly,” he said Tuesday. “But for the adverse health event in the hospital, I would be at work.”

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said he heard McCabe got sick upon returning from the cruise but knew no other details. He said he had spoken to McCabe within the last few weeks, which was a normal frequency for their conversations.

Ken Burke, Pinellas County’s circuit court clerk, said he knew McCabe had been out but said McCabe has been keeping in touch.

“He’s getting the job done,” Burke said. “He is hands on. Man loves to work.”

McCabe oversees an office of 165 lawyers that handle roughly 80,000 felony, misdemeanor, traffic and juvenile cases a year. He has been the top prosecutor in the Sixth Judicial Circuit, which covers Pinellas and Pasco counties, since 1992.

He said he had hoped to return to the office this week, but that “I’m just not there yet.” He added he’s “tired of being at home.” He also joked about the quality of daytime television.

McCabe did rule one thing out when discussing his health: “I don’t have any brain damage.”

Times senior news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.