William Curtis Colepaugh

William Curtis Colepaugh

American intelligence officer
Date of Birth: 25.03.1918
Country: USA

  1. Biography of William Curtis Colpa
  2. Defection and Spy Training
  3. Conversion to FBI Informant
  4. Court Proceedings and Commutation
  5. Life After Prison

Biography of William Curtis Colpa

William Curtis Colpa was an American spy who defected to Nazi Germany in 1944. He later returned to the United States as part of a spy mission, but ultimately decided to help the FBI and expose his fellow agent. Colpa's actions led to his arrest and eventual conviction, although his death sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.

Defection and Spy Training

In 1944, Colpa fled to Nazi Germany, where he joined the German consulate in Lisbon after arriving on a trading ship. He received extensive training in firearms and espionage techniques at a spy school in German-occupied Hague. Alongside German agent Erich Gimpel, Colpa was transported back to the US on U-1230, a submarine that landed in Hancock Point, Maine on November 29, 1944. Their mission was to gather technical intelligence about US military facilities, infiltrate the top-secret Manhattan Project, and create a diversionary group for sabotage operations.

Conversion to FBI Informant

After successfully infiltrating Boston and then traveling by train to New York City, Colpa had a change of heart. He reached out to an old school friend and divulged the details of his mission. The friend convinced Colpa to turn himself in to the FBI. Colpa provided the FBI with detailed descriptions of Gimpel, which ultimately led to his arrest.

Court Proceedings and Commutation

Colpa and Gimpel were handed over to the US military authorities at the behest of the Attorney General. In February 1945, they appeared before a military commission, facing charges of conspiracy and violating Article 82 of the Articles of War. They were found guilty and initially sentenced to death by hanging. However, President Harry Truman later commuted their sentences to life imprisonment.

Life After Prison

Colpa was released from prison in 1960 and relocated to King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. He found work in a printing press and later became a business owner, selling cabinets and tables, as well as food products. He married and actively participated in community activities, including volunteering with the Boy Scouts and becoming a member of Rotary. Colpa passed away on March 16, 2005, at the age of 86, due to complications from Alzheimer's disease.