THE BLUE MUSKETEERS, AND JAMES M. FOX—HEAD OF THE FBI’S NEW YORK OFFICE
I wrote yesterday about ‘The Blue Musketeers’—Dennis Martin, John Pritchard, and Jimmy Miley—but neglected to talk about Jim Fox.
Jim Fox, a fluent Mandarin speaker, by the way, was head of the FBI’s New York office in the early early nineties and was about as charismatic a character as you are likely to meet. Though extremely intelligent, and with a truly astonishing track record in counter-espionage and against organized crime, he had a self deprecating wit—and was truly marvelous company. Simply put, the man was extraordinarily charming, entertaining, and interesting.
I was introduced to him by John Pritchard—a highly regarded FBI agent in his own right—and I guess we like each other instantly. Thereafter, we met up regularly; and we talked at length—primarily about terrorism—just before he died in 1997. He was only 59 at the time and when I heard the news, I was devastated. I also wondered about the cause of Jim’s death. A vital and energetic man, the New York Times reported it as “Complications resulting from sepsis.” Could be—but it never rang true to me.
Jim headed up the investigation that brought down John Gotti and subsequently oversaw the successful hunt for the 1993 World Trade Center bombers. When I first met him, he picked up a machete from his desk and waved it around. It had come from a major prison riot that had taken place recently and that the Feds has helped to suppress. Jim was not your average FBI man.
I flew over from Ireland to attend his retirement party in 1994 and had the distinction of having my camera stolen as I sat between the NYPD Chief of Detectives and John Pritchard, First Deputy of the NYPD. Both Governor Cuomo and Mayor Giuliani spoke; and, all in all, it was a hell of an evening.
My favorite Jim Fox story concerns an event that occurred shortly after he had met me. The occasion was a major law enforcement lunch—and if you think that such people network a lot, you are entirely right—where Jim spotted Jimmy Miley in the audience, and thinking he was me, went on to sing my praises (though I wasn’t actually there at all).
Afterwards, Jimmy Miley went up to Fox and said: “My god, Jim; if you can confuse me with Victor O’Reilly after having lunch with him only a few days ago, no wonder you FBI guys are in such trouble.”
Fox had a hard time living that one down.
I’ll write more about Jim Fox some other time. He was a truly exceptional individual; and I miss the man.