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Spouse of Lawmaker Agrees to Penalties

October 07, 2006|Greg Krikorian | Times Staff Writer

The estranged wife of disgraced former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham has agreed to forfeit $760,000 to the IRS from the sale of the couple's Rancho Santa Fe home, acknowledging that they had financed the house, in part, with more than $1 million in bribe money, authorities said Friday.

Additionally, Nancy Cunningham signed an agreement admitting that she had tax violations and will pay $1.6 million in taxes and penalties.

Her husband, a former eight-term Republican congressman from Rancho Santa Fe, pleaded guilty in November to taking $2.4 million in bribes and evading more than $1 million in taxes. In March, he was sentenced to serve 100 months in prison.

An investigation by the FBI and IRS determined that Cunningham bought the home after a defense contractor, Mitchell Wade, paid an inflated price for the Cunninghams' former home in Del Mar Heights. Wade pleaded guilty to federal charges earlier this year.

This week's actions came more than a year after the U.S. attorney's office in San Diego filed a civil forfeiture action against the Cunninghams, declaring that the home had been financed with significant proceeds from a bribe.

Coupled with the $1.2 million already turned over to the IRS from the home's sale, U.S. Atty. Carol Lam said the new court order "returns nearly $2 million to the public ... and ensures that the Cunninghams in no way profit from the sordid conduct that occurred in this case."

The most recent payment to the government leaves the Cunninghams with about $900,000 in outstanding tax liability.

In exchange for her acceptance of responsibility in the case and continuing cooperation with an ongoing federal investigation, authorities say they have not filed criminal charges against Nancy Cunningham.

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