Former FBI agent who tracked down mobsters makes Myrtle Beach home

By Matthew Nordin - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Making coffee one morning in their kitchen, Jim and Ann Furry seem like any other couple in Myrtle Beach. But this couple has a unique story.

For 31 years, Jim worked for the FBI, often tracking down spies and mobsters. So how did Furry prepare for this life of intrigue? He laughed and said, "Actually I had a degree in education. I was a school teacher."

But a life in front of a class just wasn't for him. Furry had an uncle in the FBI who suggested he give it a try. So he and his wife, Ann, both took clerical positions supporting the G-Men in Washington.

By 1985, Jim had become a full-fledged agent which led to an exciting life, but not an easy one. "There were many times that we could not communicate because he was on the job," Ann recalled. "And I understood that. He went out of the country. We could not communicate. So one of his buddies would go to the embassy and get a message back to me that he was fine."

She had reason to worry even when he was in this country. That's because one of his biggest jobs was trying to bring down the real "Tony Sopranos" of New Jersey.

One day a "wise guy" called Jim's office, but didn't identify himself. Over the phone, he proposed a meeting at a specific time at a specific diner in a specific booth -- just like Hollywood writes it. "And I sat down across from him and he says, 'I know all about you,'" Jim recalled. "He says, 'You don't know about me.'"

When the man finally identified himself, Jim told him, "You're the subject of my investigation. You're the guy I'm looking at. Why do you want to talk with me?"

Turns out, the mobster felt jilted by his crime family and wanted to keep himself from going back to prison. "He said, 'I'd rather help you than help them.' And I got him and he was one of the best informants in the FBI --- totally --- for a couple of years," said Jim.

But behind great achievements is a lot of work, which requires understanding from an agent's spouse. "If you're a rigid-type personality that expects schedules to be met, no, no," Ann said in a soft voice. "Because you really don't know when your husband's coming home."

Especially on days like 9/11. The terrorist attacks dramatically altered Jim's assignment for much of the rest of 2001.

He was responsible for sorting through leads that were coming in from all over the country, no matter how unlikely. "You might get a call from somebody from Illinois saying, 'We're afraid that there are Arabs,'" Jim recalled. "And you sit back and you say, 'In a place like Princeton County, Illinois, what possibly could they be targeting?'"

After three decades of rising through the ranks of the FBI, he realized that he'd have to move back to DC if he wanted more promotions. "I had already put 20 years in Newark and I was eligible to retire," Jim said. "And the time seemed right. It was time to move on."

After spending the next few years after retirement doing money laundering investigations for international banks, the Furrys moved to Myrtle Beach.

A quieter life? Hardly. Next, Jim's planning to become a private investigator.

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