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Corruption inquiry lands new indictments

A defense contractor and an ex-CIA official are charged in a bribery scheme that involved a now-jailed congressman.

February 14, 2007|Tony Perry | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — A defense contractor and a former top-ranking CIA official were indicted Tuesday on corruption charges in a case that also involved bribes to disgraced ex-congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

Brent R. Wilkes was charged with bribing Cunningham (R-Rancho Santa Fe) and Kyle Dustin "Dusty" Foggo to get contracts for his San Diego companies. Until he resigned in May amid a federal investigation, Foggo was the CIA's third highest-ranking official, directing the spy agency's daily operations.

Wilkes, according to the indictment, provided Cunningham with prostitutes, vacations, corporate jet travel, limousine service, cash, meals, furniture and equipment for his boat. The value of the alleged bribes was put at $700,000.

The contractor reportedly provided Foggo, a childhood friend, with meals, gifts, private jet flights, a helicopter ride and a weeklong stay at a Scottish castle valued at $44,000. Wilkes also paid for Foggo to join him on Hawaiian vacations, the indictment said.

Officials said that Wilkes and Foggo, both 52, were expected to surrender today for arraignment.

Cunningham, who resigned from office after pleading guilty to corruption charges, is serving an eight-year prison term. He admitted to taking $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors and others and evading more than $1 million in taxes.

"High government positions and powerful connections should not be tickets to corrupt self-enrichment," U.S. Atty. Carol Lam said in announcing the indictment. "The public trust is not for sale."

She declined to say whether Cunningham provided information to the grand jury.

Except for a contract to provide water for U.S. personnel in the Middle East, the indictment does not detail exactly what kind of contracts Foggo and Cunningham allegedly pressured the Defense Department and CIA into awarding to Wilkes' companies.

In Washington, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden sent an e-mail asking agency employees not to publicly comment on the case to protect classified information and CIA contacts.

Hayden said that the allegations against Foggo first surfaced within the CIA and that the agency's inspector general launched an investigation that later became linked to the San Diego probe.

If convicted of all counts, Wilkes and Foggo could face prison sentences in the "hundreds of months," prosecutors said.

The indictment also seeks to force Wilkes to return $12 million to the federal government.

Foggo allegedly used his CIA position to pressure subordinates into awarding the contracts and to hide Wilkes' financial interest in certain ventures. In turn, Wilkes promised to hire Foggo when he retired from the CIA, the indictment says.

Prosecutors allege that Foggo and Cunningham helped Wilkes obtain more than $100 million in contracts. Cunningham, a retired Navy fighter pilot, was a member of House committees that dealt with the defense budget.

The indictment included e-mails from Foggo to Wilkes -- including one from May 14, 2003, in which the CIA official seemed to be assuring his friend that he was close to landing him some lucrative contracts.

"I have been throwing millions at his company [a CIA contractor] for about 18 months -- and I'm thinking we should be able to leverage some Wilkes Group contacts."

tony.perry@latimes.com

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Times staff writer Greg Miller in Washington contributed to this report.

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