WASHINGTON -- President Reagan denied pardons last month to E. Howard Hunt and Jeb Stuart Magruder for crimes arising from the 1972 Watergate burglary, the Justice Department said Saturday.
Justice Department spokesperson Judy Pond said Reagan rejected the requests for pardons April 20, before deciding to pardon Eugene R. Martinez, one of the Cuban-Americans convicted for the 1972 burglary of Democratic national headquarters at the Watergate office building. The repercussions from the burglary lead to the resignation of Richard Nixon.
Administration officials said Friday Reagan pardoned Martinez last Wednesday.
Hunt, a former White House aide during Richard Nixon's administration, was indicted Sept. 15, 1972, on six counts of burglary, conspiracy and illegal wiretapping in connection with the Watergate break-in.
Magruder, whose testimony provided some of the big breaks in cracking the Watergate case, accepted an offer from the special prosecutor to plead guilty to one charge of obstructing justice in exchange for his continued testimony. Both now are out of prison.
In explaining the denial of pardons for Hunt and Magruder and the granting of the pardon to Martinez, Ms. Pond said, 'Culpability is just one factor they consider (in granting or denying pardon requests), and Martinez is probably the least culpable of all of them.
'But along with culpability, they consider the actions of the applicant before and after conviction, and the length of time that passes between the conviction and the request for a pardon.'
Ms. Pond said she presumed Hunt and Magruder would have been notified of the pardon denials routinely within a few days of the decision.
She said the actions regarding all three men were based on recommendations by the Justice Department's acting pardon attorney, David C. Stephenson.
She said the action on Martinez 'was official as of May 11, and became a public docoment and was handled fairly routinely. When pardons are denied, however, there isn't anything to even put in a public record. We try to protect somewhat the privacy of people in these situations.'
Hunt pleaded guilty to the charges against him Jan. 1, 1973, and was sentenced to 30 months to 8 years in prison and fined $10,000. He was released on personal recognizance Jan. 2, 1974, pending outcome of an appeal.
When the appeal was denied, Hunt re-entered prison April 15, 1975. He was released from Eglin air force base in florida Feb. 23, 1977. He filed an application for a pardon Oct. 14, 1981.
Magruder, who served as special assistant to Nixon and later as deputy director of communications, was sentenced May 21, 1974, to 10 months to four years in prison on the one charge against him and was released after serving just over 7 months.
Democratic officials Saturday questioned Reagan's pardon of one of the Cuban-Americans convicted in the Watergate burglary 10 days before the president visits Miami to court Cuban refugees.
'If it even appears that the pardon was related to any political effort to appeal to Hispanics, I think it will simply backfire and will turn most Hispanics' stomachs,' said Gov. Toney Anaya of New Mexico.
In Miami, another convicted Watergate burglar, Frank Sturgis, said he was turned down for a pardon by Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter. He said Martinez was the only one of the group 'who had the foresight to re-apply' to Reagan.
'At my age, sometimes I wonder if it's worth going for a pardon or not, but I probably will,' Sturgis said. 'We (the other convicted burglars) would probably get one if we did. I feel confident that I would get one.'
'We took our orders from the White House, we followed them, and unfortunately were caught with out pants down,' said Sturgis.
Bernard Barker, another of the original convicted Watergate burglars, said Saturday Martinez' pardon 'opens the door for the other three involved (to get pardoned). I had already given up hope that people remembered Watergate,' he told television reporters in Miami.
Barker, contacted in Miami Friday, said he had not petitioned for a presidential pardon himself.
Martinez, who has been out of prison for nine years but with the pardon can now vote, was the first convicted Watergate figure to receive a presidential pardon. Nixon never came to trial and was given an unconditional pardon by his successor, Gerald Ford, for any possible crimes.
Manatt and Anaya were interviewed while attending a meeting of the Democratic National Strategy Council. Anaya was the top Hispanic at the session.
Reagan is scheduled to travel to Miami Friday for an observance by Cuban refugees to mark the day in 1903 on which Cuba was given its independence from the United States, which had taken control of the island from Spain in the Spanish-American War.
Miami has a large and politically powerful Cuban-American community.
Martinez was sentenced to one to four years in prison for the Watergate burglary. He served 15 months of the sentence before being paroled in January 1974 and is now sales manager of a car dealership in Miami.