Monday, June 23, 2014

40 years ago: Chuck Colson is sentenced to prison

In Washington D.C. on June 21, 1974, U.S. District Court Judge Gerhard Gesell sentenced former White House counsel Chuck Colson to 1-3 years in prison and fined him $5,000 for attempting to obstruct justice and influence the trial of former Defense Department employee Daniel Ellsberg. Mr. Colson had agreed to cooperate with Leon Jaworski, the Special Prosecutor investigating the 1972 break-in at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. and the subsequent cover-up. In return, Mr. Jaworski had agreed to drop criminal charges of conspiracy against Mr. Colson for alleged involvement in the Watergate cover-up and participation in the 1971 break-in at the office of Mr. Ellsberg's psychiatrist.

At the sentencing, Mr. Colson expressed regret and contrition for his offense, and also stated that President Richard Nixon had urged him "on numerous occasions" to commit the acts for which he was being jailed. However, Mr. Colson said he was confident that Mr. Nixon had acted in what he believed to be the national interest, and confessed that he had failed the President because "I never really questioned whether what he wanted done was right or wrong." The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee announced that Mr. Colson's statements made it imperative that he be called as a witness in the inquiry into the possible impeachment of President Nixon.

Mr. Colson came to faith in Jesus Christ before he'd ever been charged with any crimes, and not, as many may believe, in prison.

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