Friday, November 21, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

The spy who went to Armijo High

spy

Left, a Daily Republic headline from 1983 and right, James Harper's 1952 yearbook picture

By
From page A2 | April 25, 2014 |

The 1952 Armijo High School La Mezcla yearbook featured the usual senior superlatives such as “Most Athletic,” “Most Popular,” etc. It did not include “Most Likely To Commit Espionage,” but if it had, James Durward Harper would have been pictured.

On Oct. 15, 1983, the FBI arrested Harper, then 49 and working as a freelance electrical engineer in Mountain View. He was charged with selling Minuteman missile secrets to the Soviet Union over an eight-year period.

Harper’s wife, Ruby Louise Schuler, worked as a secretary for a defense contractor in Palo Alto that did research on ballistic missiles. He copied classified documents at night and on weekends and then, between July 1979 and November 1981, passed them on to Polish intelligence officials, who in turn passed them on to the Soviet Union’s security agency, the KGB.

Ruby Louise Schuler died of cirrhosis of the liver at age 39, four months before Harper’s arrest.

Harper was paid $250,000 for the approximately 100 national defense secrets he stole. The Soviet agents involved in procuring them were given commendations by then-KGB leader Yuri Andropov.

An FBI affidavit stated that the extremely sensitive research by the Department of Defense involved the ability of the United States’ Minuteman missiles to survive a pre-emptive nuclear attack by the Soviet Union.

Whether he was motivated by twinges of conscience or a fear of prosecution is unclear, but in September 1981, Harper attempted to broker a deal for immunity anonymously with the CIA, through an attorney. That offer was rejected and Harper continued to sell secrets. He was later identified by a Polish double agent.

The story broke nationally and was printed in the Oct. 18, 1983, Daily Republic, with the headline, “Bay Area man held in sale of U.S. secrets.” It quickly became clear within a few days that the spy identified initially just as a “Bay Area man” was from Fairfield.

Growing up, Harper’s parents had separated and while that is rather common in 2014, in the early 1950s in then small town Fairfield, it was not. A friend who knew Harper back then was quoted anonymously in the Daily Republic in 1984: “He had the typical problems a boy without a father has. When he went astray there was no one to kick him in the fanny. His value system was screwed up.”

While at Armijo, Harper played football, basketball and ran track. He had excelled as a fullback for the Indians, but broke his leg in the first game of his senior year and sat out the season. He was named honorary captain and had to watch as his teammates won the Superior California Athletic League championship that year.

In the “Class Wills” section of the 1952 Armijo yearbook, where graduating seniors jokingly “willed” things to underclassmen, Harper wrote: “I, James Harper, do will my ability to spot black (police) cars at great distances while driving around town to Ed Serpas.”

Descriptions of Harper by classmates included “brilliant,” “a loner,” “self-centered” and “cocky.”

By the 1970s, Harper was an ex-Marine and started a company called Harper Time and Electronics that developed the first digital stopwatch. The company Harper founded eventually ousted him in 1974 and went bankrupt because of his erratic behavior and loose business practices. The patent rights to the digital stopwatch were included as part of Harper Time’s company assets and were sold to a couple of entrepreneurs after the bankruptcy.

James Harper was sentenced to life in prison on May 14, 1984. Presiding Federal Judge Samuel Conti told Harper: “You are a traitor to your country who committed the crime not for any political reasons, but for greed.”

A couple of interesting side notes:

  • Harper later successfully petitioned a federal court to have the government return property seized during their investigation – including a teddy bear.
  • John Walker, another American spy, actually had coincidentally used the alias “James Harper” when selling secrets.

Harper, now 80 and also known as 75856-011, resides at the United States Penitentiary, Lompoc.

Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at toekneeweighed@gmail.com.

Tony Wade

Tony Wade

Tony Wade is the slightly older yet infinitely more handsome brother of long-time DR columnist Kelvin Wade
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • just sayin'April 25, 2014 - 8:47 pm

    Making the news for all the wrong reasons, Then & Now. Never heard this before and enjoyed reading about Harper. For all our faults - I still love America

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Fairfield on film celebration set Saturday

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Solano high school students bring robotics to Shanghai, China

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Hanukkah Festival added to Holiday in the Park

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1, 1 Comment

 
Holidays present seasonal entertainment

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

Memories of Thanksgiving Days gone by

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

 
Man shot at Suisun City apartment

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 6 Comments

 
 
Fairfield police log: Nov. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Nov. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

Emotions rise as people hear immigration plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Obama spurns GOP with expansive immigration orders

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 11 Comments

Congress can’t ‘de-fund’ Obama on immigration

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
A look at the numbers in Obama’s immigration plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

California sheriff criticizes Obama on immigration

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3, 3 Comments

 
PG&E fined over alleged secret dealings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Deal divides billions in closed nuke plant’s costs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
California tuition hike fight shifts to Sacramento

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Feinstein: Drought relief bill out for this year

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
GOP’s success in House races ends in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Insurance sign-ups outpacing first year enrollment

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Man who killed co-worker, cut out heart released

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 3 Comments

St. Louis region prepares for Ferguson decision

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Union: Ferguson officer does not expect charges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 2 Comments

NOAA: Globe sets 5th hottest-month record of 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Roofs collapse as New York clobbered by more snow

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Hearing draws apology, admission in air bag mess

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Florida State shooter was well-liked but troubled

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Officials downplay debates over Ebola aid response

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Boko Haram said to kill about 45 people in Nigeria

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Israeli mayor’s ban on Arab workers ignites uproar

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Protesters, police clash in Mexico before marches

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Egypt acquits doctor in female genital mutilation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Slain beauty queen, sister buried in Honduras

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Opinion

Why are we still changing clock times?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 17 Comments

 
Editorial Cartoons: Nov. 21, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A11

 
Thank you to businesses that support veterans

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
 
Thank you for saving my purse

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

.

Living

Today in History: Nov. 21, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Nov. 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

I have several part-time jobs and have no time or money for a personal life

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes: Nov. 21, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview Nov. 21-27, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Mike Nichols, crafter of films, plays, dies at 83

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Hollywood pays tribute to Mike Nichols

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Five memorable movies from Mike Nichols

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Highlights from Mike Nichols’ multi-genre career

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Handler apologizes for watermelon joke at awards

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

O’Keeffe painting sells for record $44.4M in NYC

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
TV Land pulls ‘Cosby Show’ from lineup

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3, 1 Comment

Mysterious sculpture recovered from River Seine

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Review: Revolution gathering in ‘Mockingjay

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Entertainment calendar Nov. 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
How a ‘tiny hamster’ video gets made

By The Washington Post | From Page: B5

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
James Nesbitt as a father whose child disappears

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Sports

Bulldogs, Wildcats into SJS quarterfinals

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7

 
Raiders snap 16-game skid with 24-20 win vs. KC

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Giants confident they’re in Pablo Sandoval chase

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Intense Boldin keeps making big catches for 49ers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Lewis in range of big prize at Tour Championship

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Hendrick gives Kahne 3-year contract extension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
NASCAR: Johnson says Harvick was correct winner

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Jared Goff growing into role of Cal’s ‘Golden Boy’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
JC volleyball: Falcons have 4 players earn all-BVC honors

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

Manfred given 5-year term as baseball commissioner

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Bills’ home game against Jets relocated to Detroit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

AP source: Bermuda to host 2017 America’s Cup

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
FIFA to review World Cup corruption report

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Union appeals Adrian Peterson’s suspension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
This week in sports history for Friday, Nov. 21, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Bjugstad leads Panthers to 3-2 SO win over Sharks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

Prep football capsules: Week 12

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B10

 
Cousins, Gay lead Kings past Bulls, 103-88

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

.

Business

LaCrosse rides Buick’s high reliability rating

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1

 
Ford gets the aluminum F-150 ready for prime time

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Country of origin label for meat cuts endangered

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Polls: Employers still prioritize health coverage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

New Mexico lawmakers grill spaceport boss

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Family gets $6.75 million in Botox treatment case

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Gap names heads of namesake brand, Banana Republic

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
AT&T pays $23.8 M to settle hazardous-waste case

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Soaring generic drug prices draw Senate scrutiny

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
US home sales rise in October

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

US unemployment aid applications fall to 291,000

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9