G. Gordon Liddy, known best for engineering the bungled break-in that led to the Watergate scandal, has died, his family said Tuesday. He was 90.
Liddy’s son Thomas P. Liddy said his father died at the home of his daughter Alexandra Liddy Bourne in Vernon, Virginia. He said his father had Parkinson’s disease and had been in declining health, and did not die from the coronavirus disease 2019.
While working for President Richard Nixon in 1972, Liddy was arrested along with fellow conspirator E. Howard Hunt after Nixon campaign security official James W. McCord Jr. and four Cubans returned to the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C., weeks after they had planted bugs and photographed documents in the Democrat National Committee offices and were caught by police.
The arrests uncovered a larger conspiracy orchestrated by Liddy and Hunt, who worked to seal information leaks in the Nixon administration, which included breaking into the office of Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon papers to The New York Times.
Liddy refused to testify before the grand jury investigating the Watergate scandal that led to Nixon’s resignation and was sentenced to six to 20 years in prison, the greatest handed down to any of those involved.
He only served 52 months, however, and President Jimmy commuted his term in 1977.
Born George Gordon Battle Liddy on Nov. 30, 1930, in Brooklyn, New York, Liddy was raised in Hoboken, New Jersey, where he said he overcame a fearful disposition and respiratory problems as a youth by lifting weights and putting himself through tests of will such as placing his hand over a flame and eating a rat to overcome his revulsion to the vermin.
He joined the Army in 1952 and worked as an FBI field agent from 1957 to 1962 before launching a political career, unsuccessfully running for the Republican nomination to represent New York’s 28th district in Congress.
Liddy was appointed to the post of special assistant to the secretary of the treasury for the Nixon administration and eventually became part of a special investigations unit tasked with combating White House leaks known as “the Plumbers.”After Watergate, Liddy wrote a series of books ranging from the fictional spy thriller Out of Control in 1979 to a 1980 autobiography titled Will that detailed Watergate and his time in federal prison. SOVEREIGNPH