Faherty admits he did it 

For months he claimed he was only an innocent victim, just doing a favor for an old family friend by cashing in a fraudulently obtained $1-million McDonald's game piece. But on Jan. 17 Jim Faherty, a former owner of the downtown music club Sapphire (since renamed The Social by new management), pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud in federal court in Jacksonville. A count of conspiracy was dropped.

Faherty faces up to five years in prison, though his lawyer, Mark NeJame, hopes for a softer penalty, either "probation or a relatively small amount of jail time."

One issue the court still must decide is the value of the prize ticket. Though its face is $1 million, it was cashed for a lump sum of $490,000. "That makes a difference in federal sentencing guidelines," says NeJame.

Then there's the matter of intent. "Jim blindly went along with the request" to cash in the game piece out of friendship with "his father's best friend," a man named A. J. Glomb, and because he could "make some money to boot," says NeJame. "He had been having so many difficulties with his businesses," which included two restaurants, Dante's and Baraka, where he was an investor.

"The city's 2 a.m. closing time had worked a hardship on him," added NeJame, who, as a co-owner of the dance club Tabu, has led the unsuccessful effort to extend late-night drinking hours downtown. "In another time, `Faherty` might have been more careful."

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