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Watergate figures say Tampa author taped them

Watergate figures John Dean and Alexander Butterfield allege they were secretly _ and illegally _ taped by a Tampa man who co-wrote a book about the scandal that toppled President Richard Nixon.

Dean and Butterfield were in Tampa on Tuesday to be interviewed by the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office.

"I am here, as are a number of other witnesses, regarding a criminal investigation concerning publication of the book Silent Coup: The Removal of a President," Dean said in a story published Wednesday. Butterfield declined to comment.

Len Colodny, a Tampa resident since 1986, and Robert Gettlin, a journalist, are co-authors of Silent Coup.

Dean was tight-lipped about the criminal complaint, but he confirmed Butterfield was also there to discuss the investigation.

Chris Hoyer, chief assistant state attorney, said his office is investigating alleged violations of the state's electronic surveillance and communications law. The law makes it a felony to record a conversation, whether in person or on the telephone, without the other person's consent.

Hoyer said the month-old investigation was prompted by complaints filed by lawyers for Dean and Butterfield. He declined to discuss specifics. More witnesses are to be interviewed, Hoyer said.

Dean, who lives in California and has been an investment banker for 15 years, was interviewed by prosecutors for most of the day. He declined to say how long he would be in Tampa.

Colodny declined comment. His attorney, Benton Becker of Miami, said no statement would be issued.

Dean, 53, is best remembered as the former White House counsel who, during televised Senate hearings, detailed the 1972 break-in _ and subsequent coverup _ at Democratic headquarters at the Watergate apartment complex. He recounted how he told Nixon the scandal "was a cancer growing on the presidency."

Butterfield, a former Nixon aide who was never charged with a Watergate-related crime, met for more than four hours Tuesday with Assistant State Attorney Judy Hoyer.