E.Howard Hunt Jr., the chief talent recruiter and lookout for he Watergate burglary, paid his $10,000 fine yesterday and cleared the way for his parole Feb. 23.
The fine was paid with a check drawn on the account of the Baltimore law firm that represents Hunt. His lawyer, William Snyder, said Hunt paid the fine with an insurance settlement and money raised by mortgaging a house.
Hunt is serving a 30-monthe-to-8-year term at the federal prison camp at Elgin Air Force Base in Florida for his role in the break-in at Democratic Party headquartes in the Watergate office building on June 17, 1972. He pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, burglary and illegal wiretapping.
As soon as Hunt is freed, he will fly to Washington to testify in a civil suit that is an cutgrowth of the Wastergate case, Snyder said. Hunt, along with others, is a defendant in the suit.
Last monthe, when the U.S. Parole Commission ordered his release upon payment of the $10,000 fine, a lawyer in Miami, Ellis Rubin, said raising the money would be a problem for Hunt.
He completed the minimum 30 months on Jan. 10, serving it in two stages. He was free for nearly 16 months in the middle of his prison term while his case was on appeal.
Hunt, now 58, was a former longtome CIA agent who was brought into the White House by former Nixon aides John D. Ehrlichman and Charles W. Colson. He was part of the White House "plumbers" squad that sent burglars into the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist and later worked with G. Gordon Liddy on the Watergate burglary.
Liddy is the only other member of the original Watergate defendants still in prison and he won't be eligible for parole until May 1, 1981.
Hunt had applied for commutation of sentence, but the appeal was not sent by the Justice Department to the White House. The application becomes moot upon his release. Liddy has a similar request pending.