Fifty-two years in office will be enough for Prince William Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul B. Ebert, who has announced he will not seek re-election in November.
Ebert, 81, told his staff Tuesday he will retire at the end of his current term, which ends this year. In an announcement issued by his office, Ebert said “health challenges” contributed to his decision.
“Due to some recent health challenges I have decided that, after more than a half-century of service upholding the laws of our commonwealth, I am going to enjoy my family and friends and maybe get in a little fishing,” Ebert said.
Ebert, a Democrat, is nationally recognized for high-profile cases, including the prosecution D.C. sniper John Allen Muhammad, which resulted in the first capital murder conviction under Virginia’s terrorism statute and the execution of Muhammad, the announcement said.
Ebert also famously handled the cases of Lorena and John Wayne Bobbitt, whose infamous case put Prince William County in national headlines in 1993.
Ebert is the longest-serving commonwealth’s attorney in Virginia history. He became the youngest person to become the county’s top prosecutor when he was elected in 1967, at the age of 30, and then became the oldest person to hold the job in 2015, when he won a 13th term.
The Virginia General Assembly commended Ebert’s service Jan. 29 through state Senate Joint Resolution 334, which was introduced by Sen. Richard Stuart, R-28th, whose district includes part of Prince William County.
Ebert earned an undergraduate degree in business administration from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, now known as Virginia Tech, and a law degree from The George Washington University School of Law in Washington, D.C.
Ebert practiced law from 1963 to 1980 and worked as a justice of the peace for the City of Falls Church and as an assistant commonwealth’s attorney prior to becoming commonwealth’s attorney, the resolution said.
So far, only one candidate is vying to replace Ebert next year. Amy Ashworth, a Democrat and former prosecutor with Ebert’s office, has announced her candidacy for the seat.
An attorney with more than 20 years’ experience, Ashworth worked in the Prince William Commonwealth’s Attorney Office for 11 years. She was assigned to the Special Victim’s Unit and oversaw investigations and prosecutions involving sexual and physical abuse cases, including rape and child pornography. Ashworth is now in private practice with Farrell & Croft in Manassas.
Former Prince William County Supervisor Mike May (R) challenged Ebert in 2015, a race Ebert won with 53 percent of the vote. May, also a private attorney, has not yet said whether he will run again this year.
Ebert was popular with both Republicans and Democrats in the county. Since his retirement was announced Tuesday, notes of congratulation have begun to trickle in from Prince William County officials and residents, alike.
“Congratulations to Paul Ebert on a long career keeping Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park safe," state Sen. Scott Surovell, D-36th, said in a Facebook post. "He leaves big shoes to fill.”
“I have many vivid memories of Mr. Ebert, including his coming to visit me as Santa Claus when I was a little boy,” added Paul O’Meara, a Prince William County building contractor who is running for the county board of supervisors as a Republican this year.
“Thank you for your many decades of service and the indelible mark you’ve put on Prince William County. Sir! I hope you have a long and enjoyable retirement!”