WASHINGTON - A former credit union manager who has fought a tumultuous, four-year legal battle with the federal government is trying to take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

John R. Doolittle, former president of Bay Gulf Federal Credit Union, is seeking to overturn a 1991 National Credit Union Administration decision that prohibited him from running a federally insured institution. He also must repay $42,857 to the institution for bad real estate loans made on his watch.

Steven Bisker, the attorney representing Mr. Doolittle, petitioned the Supreme Court Aug. 14 for a writ of certiorari.

"It's important, irrespective of the size of the adversaries, to go forward when one is wronged," Mr. Bisker said in an interview.

"There's lots of problems in what (the NCUA) did," Mr. Bisker said. But the 11-page petition homes in on one asserted agency shortcoming: that the NCUA failed to demonstrate in its notice of prohibition, as it must, how any of Mr. Doolittle's actions - mostly accounting improprieties - helped him or hurt the credit union.

Mr. Doolittle's travails date from 1990, when the board of the Tampa credit union fired him. He has since maintained that the board acted under the improper and illegal influence of an NCUA-appointed consultant who came on board to help with some loan problems.

In 1991, the NCUA issued the prohibition order against Mr. Doolittle. After recourse to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, the order was vacated and remanded to the NCUA for reconsideration in June 1993. The agency decided Jan. 17, 1994, to reinstate the prohibition.

Mr. Bisker then argued Mr. Doolittle's renewed appeal to the 11th Circuit, which upheld the prohibition in March with no comment.

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