Jeb Stuart Magruder, jailed for Watergate role, dies at 79

Jeb Magruder, an aide to President Nixon who spent seven months in prison for his role in covering up the 1972 break-in at Washington's Watergate complex, talks during an Associated Press interview Friday, Feb. 1, 2008 in Columbus, Ohio. Kiichiro Sato, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Jeb Stuart Magruder, who was imprisoned for his role in the Watergate scandal, died May 11 in Danbury, Conn., after complications from a stroke. Magruder was 79.

After serving in the Army in Korea and later getting his MBA, he became a businessman, eventually starting up his own cosmetics company, according to an obituary posted on the Hull Funeral Service website.

In 1969, President Richard Nixon appointed him to be the Special Assistant to the President of the United States for Domestic Policy Development.

He was later tapped to help run Nixon's 1972 Committee to Re-elect the President and during that time he became involved in carrying out the June 1972 break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex to bug the DNC chairman's phone - the event that led to the uncovering of the Watergate scandal and Nixon's eventual resignation.

Magruder, who worked with G. Gordon Liddy and John Dean to carry out the break-in plan, was charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice in the ensuing coverup and served seven months in prison - one of 25 people who ended up jailed following the scandal.

In 2003, Magruder changed his public story about what he knew about the planning of the break-in, telling the Associated Press that former Attorney General John Mitchell had approved the break-in and that he heard Nixon tell Mitchell to proceed with the planned burglary.

Magruder told the AP that he could hear Nixon tell Mitchell, "John, ... we need to get the information on Larry O'Brien, and the only way we can do that is through Liddy's plan. And you need to do that."

After being released from prison in 1975, Magruder and his family moved to Princeton, N.J., where he attended the Princeton Theological Seminary. In 1984, he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister, according to the Hull Funeral Service obituary, and he served as an associate pastor at several churches in San Mateo, Calif., and Columbus, Ohio, and as pastor in Lexington, Ky.

In 2003, he retired to Columbus, Ohio, the Associated Press reported, and he was later arrested after appearing drunk in public. He was charged with drunken driving in 2005 after a traffic stop in rural Ohio and in 2007, he was involved in a car accident after suffering a stroke that caused him to hit a truck and a motorcycle on a Columbus highway.

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