WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) — Jeb Stuart Magruder, a former official in the administration of President Richard Nixon jailed for his role in the Watergate scandal, died May 11 from complications from a stroke, according to a funeral notice published by a Connecticut funeral home.
Magruder, 79, joined the Nixon administration in 1969 as special assistant to the president for domestic policy development. He joined Nixon's 1972 re-election campaign and was involved in the campaign's efforts to gather intelligence on its political opponents.
In that job, Magruder helped authorize the unsuccessful June 17, 1972, break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington's Watergate office complex. The arrest of the five burglars that night triggered a coverup by the campaign, which spread to the White House and was enthusiastically embraced by Nixon. Nixon resigned in August 1974 after continued revelations about his role in the scandal and other issues.
Magruder worked with White House counsel John Dean and political intelligence operative G. Gordon Liddy to arrange the break-in, although Magruder's version of events differed repeatedly throughout the years following the break-in. He was one of the 25 people who ended up going to prison for their roles in the Watergate scandal.
Once released from prison, Magruder became a Presbyterian minister and served as president of the Christian group YoungLife. In his later years, he suffered a series of strokes and was arrested twice for public intoxication and drunken driving.