James A. McIntosh, 67, FBI agent who lectured athletes about drugs

McIntosh
McIntosh
Posted: September 12, 2013

JIM McINTOSH had a good day.

Jim, a onetime Villanova basketball star, was an FBI agent who lectured sports teams, local and national, pro and amateur, on the dangers of illegal drugs.

On this day in the summer of '86, he had a chance to reach athletes younger than he was used to, speaking at a basketball camp at St. Joseph's University for kids 9 to 17.

After his talk, a 10-year-old boy came up and asked, "If somebody comes up to you asking for help who's on drugs, will he be put in jail or given help?"

Jim told him he would be given help. Then a 14-year-old boy came up and told him how much he had enjoyed the talk.

With a broad smile, Jim said, "That's what it's all about. Two more. Two chances. I can leave here knowing that we've cut at least two individuals out of the marketplace."

James A. McIntosh, a 6-foot-7 basketball standout at Villanova University, where he taught English before entering the FBI, died June 29 of prostate cancer. He was 67 and lived in Sarasota, Fla.

Jim served as press liaison for the FBI in Philadelphia before he began lecturing athletes on the evils of drugs.

Phil Martelli, St. Joe's head basketball coach who was an assistant coach in the '80s and ran the camp, invited Jim to speak with the boys because he had heard Jim talk with the Hawks' varsity on the same subject a year before.

"What we're trying to do is reduce the drug demand," Jim said at the time. "Reducing the demand is just one way of fighting it."

Jim, who conducted drug seminars for almost every team in the NFL and NBA, as well as college teams, had rarely had a chance to talk with younger athletes.

"Bum Phillips once told me, 'Hey, why can't you guys get to the grade-school level, because I'm getting a bum product by the time they get up here,' " Jim said, quoting the retired Houston Oilers coach.

Jim said the idea is to get to the kids "before the pushers do."

Jim grew up in Holmesburg, the son of James and Cynthia McIntosh. He once told an interviewer that about age 10, he decided he wanted to attend Villanova University and become an FBI agent.

As the center for the Villanova basketball team, he helped lead the team to two National Invitation Tournaments and one NCAA tournament.

He was pursuing a master's degree at Villanova when he received his appointment to the FBI.

Jim joined the FBI on July 6, 1970, and retired on Sept. 30, 2002. He spent 25 years of that time with the Philadelphia division.

He came to Philadelphia after assignments in Detroit and New York City, where he worked in organized-crime investigations often as an undercover agent. He was involved in the investigations of the notorious Frank Lucas and Nicky Barnes, legendary Harlem drug dealers, among other high-profile cases.

Among his honors, Jim received the FBI's Medal of Valor.

"He was very charismatic," said Robert Bazin, retired FBI agent who specialized in finding stolen art treasures. "He was well-known and highly respected in the city."

Jim is survived by his wife, Carolyn.

Services: Were July 27 in Sarasota.

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