(CNN) — Chuck Colson, a Watergate-era “hatchet man” for President Richard Nixon who became an influential evangelical leader after serving time in prison, died Saturday afternoon, according to his website. He was 80.
A former U.S. Marine captain, Colson was considered a main player in the Nixon White House’s dirty tricks during the rough-and-tumble politics of the Vietnam era in America.
Not tied directly to the June 17, 1972, break-in to Democratic National Committee offices in Washington’s Watergate complex, Colson was implicated in the broader political scandal and became the first Nixon aide to be convicted.
While indicted, he negotiated with prosecutors and pleaded guilty in 1974 to obstruction of justice for attempting to defame anti-war activist Daniel Ellsberg, who had leaked the once-secret Pentagon Papers that revealed the full extent of U.S. military involvement in Southeast Asia.
He served seven months in prison before being paroled in 1975. […]