A former Treasury and FBI agent, Liddy fell in with the group that became known as the Plumbers and took part in the burglary of the office of Dr. Lewis Fielding, Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist. As the 1972 election drew near, Liddy became legal counsel to the CRP and proposed a plan to its management, code-named “Gemstone.” By use of kidnapping, burglary, electronic surveillance, and the use of prostitutes, intelligence could be gleaned on political opponents. John Mitchell, director of CRP, balked at the plan’s extravagance and its high million-dollar price tag and ordered it scaled back.
One part that survived the trimming was a break-in at the DNC headquarters in the Watergate complex. Liddy and E. Howard Hunt oversaw the operation and were arrested along with those who actually broke into the office. Eventually, Liddy stood trial for that offense, for conspiracy in the Fielding case, and for refusing to testify before the Watergate Committee. The courts handed him a stiff fine, and he served about 4 and a half years in prison, the most of any of the conspirators.