Among those not surprised by ex-Norfolk Sheriff Bob McCabe’s conviction? His only sibling and oldest son

The only thing more stunning than Bob McCabe’s sudden rise to power in Norfolk politics was his devastating fall from it.

The Norfolk native was a little-known, 35-year-old police detective on his third marriage and not making much money when he was elected sheriff in 1993, surprisingly beating a longtime incumbent.

He was soon hobnobbing with the city’s elite and powerful, enjoying a hefty salary and a comfortable life. His name recognition grew as he got involved in multiple charitable, civic and professional organizations. He easily won his next five elections.

But in late 2016, McCabe’s luck began to change.

He finished last in his bid for mayor, discovered he was under federal investigation and abruptly announced his resignation. The 11-count indictment that followed accused him of taking cash and gifts from two businessmen who had longtime contracts with the city’s jail in exchange for inside information and favorable treatment.

On Tuesday, a jury convicted McCabe, 63, of all counts at the end of a three-week trial in U.S. District Court in Norfolk. Judge Arenda Wright Allen immediately revoked his bond and scheduled sentencing for Jan. 21.

Among those not surprised by McCabe’s current circumstances are two family members: McCabe’s only sibling, an older brother named Tom; and the oldest of McCabe’s two children, a 39-year-old son named Brian. Both have long been estranged from the former sheriff.

“Bob always had a superiority complex,” Tom McCabe, 66, said. “He always wanted to be a big fish in a little pond.”

Tom McCabe, who lives in Norfolk, said his brother has refused to speak to him for the past 30 years, supposedly because of something the older brother said. The two didn’t even talk to each other at their father’s funeral in 2013.

Brian McCabe, who also lives in Norfolk and works in construction, said he hasn’t spoken to his father in years. He wouldn’t say how many or why.

And while both men said they don’t wish any ill will on McCabe, they believe he needs to face the consequences of his wrongdoing.

“I feel bad and it sucks,” Brian McCabe said of his father’s conviction and upcoming sentencing. “But it’s stuff he did and he has to be held accountable for his actions.”

Tom McCabe said he wasn’t surprised to hear his brother had refused to accept a plea deal. Prosecutors revealed at the start of the trial that one had been offered, but didn’t disclose the terms.

“Bobby’s pride would never let him plead guilty,” Tom McCabe said.

Bob McCabe declined to be interviewed for this story, according to a spokeswoman for Western Tidewater Regional Jail, where he was first sent after his conviction. He later was transferred to a facility “outside the area” for his own protection, said William Smith, the jail’s superintendent.

While the maximum McCabe could potentially get is 220 years in prison, federal sentencing guidelines are likely to call for far less.

Some local defense lawyers who regularly practice in federal court believe the guidelines — which take several factors into consideration — could recommend a term close to, or more than, 20 years. Judges can choose to go above or below the recommendation, but typically issue a sentence within the guidelines, they said.

While McCabe’s lack of prior convictions will weigh in his favor, the circumstances of his crimes, his lack of remorse, the number of years the crimes were committed, and the fact that he was a public official who abused his office will weigh against him, the lawyers said. His testimony at trial also likely will be considered obstruction of justice, they said.

As for his pension, McCabe could lose it. State law requires that government employees convicted of felonies associated with the performance of their job must forfeit their retirement benefits, but only if the convicted person’s employer requests that they be stopped. Because McCabe was a constitutionally elected official, it’s not clear who his “employer” would be.

James Broccoletti, McCabe’s defense lawyer, said he will appeal the convictions.

Among the issues the defense plans to raise is the judge’s decision to have McCabe and his co-defendant Gerard “Jerry” Boyle tried separately, which meant Boyle’s testimony couldn’t be offered at McCabe’s trial.

Boyle was the owner of Correct Care Solutions, then a Nashville-based company that provided medical services to Norfolk’s inmates for many years. He faces similar charges as McCabe and is scheduled for trial in October.

Boyle told federal investigators that anything he gave McCabe was “done only to promote good will” and was not offered with any expectations.

Broccoletti argued in court papers the testimony was crucial to McCabe’s defense, because it shows there was no “quid pro quo.”

Another appeal issue Broccoletti plans to raise is a ruling that allowed two witnesses to testify about statements they said were made to them by a sheriff’s office official, Norman Hughey, who died in 2019.

The witnesses said Hughey, who’d served as undersheriff, told them McCabe asked him to provide inside information about competitor’s bids to Boyle’s company — but Hughey refused.

Broccoletti argued in court papers it was wrong to allow the witnesses to testify about the statements because the defense couldn’t cross examine a dead man. The defense lawyer also contended Hughey had motivation to lie because he believed McCabe had forced him to retire from the department.

Jane Harper, 757-222-5097, [email protected]