SAN FRANCISCO -- Federal prosecutors investigating the John Walker spy ring in June 1985 huddled over a stack of papers they dubbed 'the handwritten notes' and discovered two slim pages that broke the case against Jerry Whitworth.
'Those were the two single most important pieces of evidence' in building the case against Whitworth, Assistant U.S. Attorney Leida Schoggen said Friday.
Whitworth, 46-year-old former Navy man, was convicted on 12 of 13 counts of spying and tax evasion Thursday for selling Navy cryptographic codes for a decade as part of a spy ring created by Walker.
The jury deliberated 10 days after the 3 month trial. Whitworth faces seven life terms plus 17 years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 28.
FBI counterintelligence specialists and federal attorneys had just started to unravel the tangled mass of evidence seized in Walker's Norfolk, Va. home when Justice Department Attorney John Dion found the two nondescript pages tucked in among KGB instructions to Walker for meetings in Vienna and drops in Washington, D.C.
Those two pages, one handwritten by Walker another partially typed by Whitworth, were jottings of their individual payments from the Russians for years of spying. The pages showed the exact dates and amounts of pay.
The two grimy sheets, labeled by the court as 'A22E and A22H1,' were smudged with the blue-black fingerprint powder of the FBI investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney William Farmer held them up before the jurors in the closing days of Whitworth's trial and called the 'the backbone of the rest of the case' against Whitworth.
The Walker note lists the months and amounts of money paid. A corresponding typed note by Whitworth listed the same months and payments with a few additional notes added by Walker.
Jury foreman Donald Neumann, said Friday there had been little disagreement among the jury that Whitworth must have known the material he gave to Walker was going to the Soviets.
The defense had admitted Whitworth took classified papers and sold them to Walker but contended it was in the mistaken belief they were going to Israel or other American allies.
Neumann said that while the panel had pity for Whitworth, it loathed Walker. Neumann called Walker 'the most villainous person I have ever seen. He manipulated other people. Whitworth was in effect manipulated and seduced by money.'
Juror Roland Young, of Oakland, said there was unanimity among the panel that Walker was 'slime.'
Juror Ross Browne, of Berkeley, said, 'I think Jerry knew exactly what he was doing. He succumbed to greed. That was his downfall.'
All three said they were convinced Walker was the mastermind of the spy operation. They also confirmed that the 'handwritten notes' were the keys to the prosecution case.
Neuman would not comment on any possible sentence for Whitworth but said, 'It would be unjust if John Walker gets out before Whitworth.'