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Former Watergate figure Hunt files for bankruptcy

E. Howard Hunt, the ex-CIA operative and Watergate burglar who became a mystery novelist, has filed for personal bankruptcy, The Miami Herald reported Saturday.

Hunt claimed $234,000 in debts and $147,182 in assets in the recent filing in federal Bankruptcy Court.

"It took me a long time to reach that juncture, but it finally had to be done," Hunt told the newspaper.

He said his assets included half ownership in a 1989 Mercury with 90,000 miles plus. "Needs brakes and transmission," court papers said.

He could not be reached for additional comment Saturday; his phone number is not listed. He told the newspaper he would not comment further.

Hunt was one of five Watergate burglars caught inside Democratic National Headquarters in Washington in 1972. The burglary led to the downfall of the Nixon administration in 1974, and more than 2{ years in prison for Hunt.

Hunt complained that his Watergate fines and legal fees cost him dearly.

In 1981, however, a jury in Miami awarded Hunt $650,000 in a libel case he brought against the Liberty Lobby, a right-wing group that published an article falsely linking him to the assassination of President Kennedy.

Hunt, a resident of Biscayne Park, has been spending a second life as an author of dozens of mystery novels.

One of his publishers, St. Martin's Press, is expected to release his latest novel, The Paris Edge, in August.

St. Martin's will have a special incentive to make the book a best-seller: The publisher is one of Hunt's creditors.