Winning Wasn't Everything

Jim Dougherty exposed insurance fraud for Lloyd's of London -- until they concluded the Miami Beach lawyer had overbilled them by millions. Now the U.S. attorney is involved and things have turned very ugly, indeed.

Jim Dougherty is practicing damage control. Fax whirring in the background, his voice pitched at a sustained holler, he is granting his one and only interview with New Times, a phone chat that lasts all of twenty minutes. In a follow-up conversation a week later, Dougherty will bluntly announce his belief that the newspaper intends to write a defamatory article about him and will refuse to speak further.

This single interlude, however, manages to convey the panicky righteousness with which the lawyer is girding himself for the battle ahead. Without the benefit of a question, he hurtles into a recitation of his triumphs. The remarkable success of his litigation ("I'm proud of my cases. I wish you'd look at the case files"). Highlights from his visit to the U.S. Senate ("My RICO case against BCCI led the Justice Department on the way!"). A whirlwind appendix of articles, his favorite passages stressed with interjections ("Here's a good line for you!").

He winds down with a plaintive reading of the epigraph to the book Outlaw Bank, by Jonathan Beaty and S.C. Gwynne. "'Many sources on several continents helped make this story possible: Some of them risked their lives, and many of them risked their reputations' A that's me!'" Dougherty points out.

"Will somebody answer the damn phone!" he howls at a ringing in the background.

He continues reading the acknowledgement. "'We cannot name all the honest and dedicated people in law enforcement...but we can thank the following,' A ah, here we go A 'James Dougherty, a Miami attorney who did much to advance the investigation of BCCI.' Now that's what the editors of Time magazine had to say about me. So you're not dealing with some piece of shit," Dougherty says. "I've never met you, but I'm telling you, I saw combat as a Marine in Vietnam."

The United States Marine Corps headquarters does, in fact, have a record of James F. Dougherty II, born August 24, 1939, in Wilmington, Delaware. He enlisted in December 1961 and reported for training at the officers' training academy in Quantico, Virginia, on March 12, 1962. He was separated from the Marine Corps for medical reasons eleven weeks later.

"Come on over next week," the ex-Marine cries. "Read up. You've got yourself a great story.

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