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Watergate figure, Christian leader Chuck Colson dead at 80

Posted at 4:50 PM, Apr 21, 2012
and last updated 2012-04-21 16:51:41-04

By the CNN Wire Staff

(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.

Colson suffered a brain hemorrhage in late March.

Colson was the first Nixon aide to be convicted of Watergate-related charges in the 1972 scandal.

After a short prison sentence, he reinvented himself as a Christian leader and founded Prison Fellowship, which calls itself “the world’s largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families,” with a presence in 113 countries.

According to his official biography, Colson “admits he was guilty of political ‘dirty tricks” and willing to do almost anything for the cause of his president and his party.”

But as he prepared to leave prison at the end of his sentence, he promised fellow inmates that he would not forget them or his experience there, his biography says.

In 1976 he founded Prison Fellowship, which provides support for inmates in the form of in-prison Bible studies, mentoring programs and support for the children of prisoners.

Colson also hosted a daily radio commentary called “BreakPoint,” which aired on stations nationwide.