- Associated Press - Monday, May 30, 2016

PARIS, Ky. (AP) - More than a quarter-century ago, Jim Huggins led the investigation into the death of an FBI informant that ended with an agent pleading guilty to manslaughter. Now he’s helping filmmakers tell the story in a movie being shot in Kentucky.

Earlier this month, Huggins was in Paris, Kentucky, where a crew was shooting scenes inside the Bourbon County Courthouse for the film about FBI agent Mark Putnam and the death of Susan Daniels Smith in June 1989 in Pike County.

The Lexington Herald-Leader (https://bit.ly/1OSDXCJ) reports Huggins, the former head of the Lexington FBI office, was brought in to coach actors playing FBI agents on the right look, language and attitude. Director Phillip Noyce asked him to work with Jack Huston, the actor playing Putnam.

“He said, ‘I’d like you to turn him into an FBI agent. You’ve got eight hours,’” Huggins said with a laugh.

Noyce and producer Colleen Camp also had Huggins go over the script and incorporated many of his suggestions.

For instance, the original script had a scene in which Putnam tries to intimidate a local officer, threatening to make trouble with the officer’s boss if he doesn’t cooperate.

Huggins told the filmmakers that’s not how an agent would approach a local officer whose help he wanted.

“That makes no sense to come in on your high horse,” Huggins said. “They wrote that totally out.”

Huggins said he has been impressed by the crew’s efforts to get details right.

“He’s trying to be as accurate as he can be,” Huggins said of Noyce.

Camp said Huggins is good with people and his knowledge has been crucial to the authenticity of the film.

“I can tell you it’s invaluable,” she said.

Putnam pleaded guilty in June 1990 in exchange for a 16-year sentence, the first agent ever convicted of a homicide.

Smith became an informant for him on a bank robbery, and the two ultimately began an affair. Just before he transferred to Miami in early 1989, Smith told him she was pregnant with his child. He returned that June to prepare for a trial, and Putnam said Smith threatened to tell the FBI and his wife about the pregnancy, then got mad and started slapping him, and he snapped and choked her to death, hiding her body in a ravine.

Putnam was released from prison in 2000 after serving 10 years.

Huggins says he’s enjoyed his involvement with Hollywood but expects it to be his last.

At 77, he said, he’s “too old to start making my move in the movie business.”

___

Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, https://www.kentucky.com


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