WASHINGTON (AP) _ Former White House counsel John W. Dean III has settled a seven-year-old libel suit he filed against the author of a book portraying him as the mastermind of the Watergate conspiracy.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan signed a one-page order dismissing the case on Monday.

The dismissal came after State Farm Insurance Cos., the author's personal liability insurance carrier, decided to pay the Deans an undisclosed sum to resolve the dispute, insurance company spokesman Joe Johnson said Tuesday.

In a separate deal, he said State Farm agreed to pay Leonard Colodny of Tampa, Fla., author of the 1991 book titled ``Silent Coup,'' an undisclosed amount of money for fees and expenses that Colodny incurred in defending the suit.

The book claims Dean orchestrated the 1972 burglary at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington in an effort to obtain information on an alleged link between Democrats and a prostitution ring run by a friend of Dean's future wife, Maureen.

The book says Dean planned the break-in to collect damaging information on the Democrats to heighten his own influence at the White House and then concocted the cover-up without consulting superiors. Dean's damaging testimony to congressional investigators further unraveled the Watergate affair, which forced President Nixon to resign in 1974.

``We're thrilled about the settlement and we feel we have ample evidence proving his story is false,'' said John Garrick, the Deans' attorney. ``The Deans have repeatedly refuted the claim that there was a call girl ring linked to the Democratic National Committee and that Mr. Dean's wife was friends with the madam of the call girl ring.''

Colodny, however, says Dean agreed to accept a settlement and sign an agreement not to sue the author again on the same grounds because he wanted to avoid a public courtroom drama. Colodny said he wanted the court to hear the case because he was confident that a public trial would validate his reporting.