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Published: Tuesday, 7/24/2007

Watergate figure Jeb Magruder hospitalized after car crash in Columbus


COLUMBUS, Ohio - Jeb Stuart 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, was hospitalized after his car crashed into a motorcycle and a truck, authorities said.

Magruder was listed in serious condition Monday night at Riverside Methodist Hospital. A hospital spokeswoman on Tuesday wouldn't talk about his condition, citing a family request for privacy.

Police said they found Magruder, 72, inside his Audi sedan, which was against a highway wall on state Route 315 following the accident Monday morning. The drivers of the other two vehicles weren't seriously hurt, and no charges have been filed.

Magruder, a retired Presbyterian minister, said for the first time in 2003 that he remembered listening in on the phone as Nixon gave the go-ahead for the plan to bug the Democratic headquarters at Watergate. Some historians reacted with skepticism.

The accident is the latest problem for Magruder, who was charged with drunken driving by the State Highway Patrol in 2005 in Fayette County, about 40 miles southwest of Columbus. That charge was later reduced to reckless operation, according to court records in Washington Court House.

In 2003, he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after police in the Columbus suburb of Grandview found him passed out on a sidewalk.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com

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