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Military contractor is convicted of bribing ex-Rep. Cunningham

Brent Wilkes is found guilty on all 13 counts. He's also charged with bribing a CIA official.

November 06, 2007|Tony Perry | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO -- A former military contractor was convicted Monday of bribing disgraced former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham with cash, fancy vacations, furniture and prostitutes in exchange for help in getting government contracts.

Brent R. Wilkes, 53, of Poway was convicted in a San Diego federal court on all 13 counts involving more than $700,000 in bribes. He also faces separate charges of bribing a former CIA official, Dustin "Dusty" Foggo, to get contracts.

Cunningham, a decorated Navy fighter pilot who served in Vietnam, was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison in March 2006 after pleading guilty to taking $2.4 million in bribes and evading more than $1 million in federal income taxes.

Although he was transferred to the downtown federal jail here, the 65-year-old Cunningham was not called as a witness against Wilkes. Prosecutors did not explain their decision.

Wilkes is the second military contractor convicted of bribing Cunningham to use his influence on key congressional committees. Mitchell Wade, who owned a Washington-based firm specializing in the analysis of intelligence, pleaded guilty in February 2006 to giving Cunningham more than $1 million in bribes.

Wilkes denied bribing Cunningham in getting more than $80 million in contracts. He testified that he felt that giving gifts to powerful members of Congress was an accepted practice among firms trying to get military contracts.

His firm, Poway-based ACDS Inc., collapsed amid the investigation. The firm specialized in keeping and analyzing records and intelligence documents.

Cunningham was an eight-term congressman from a heavily Republican district in northern San Diego County when his bribery scheme unraveled.

Among other pieces of evidence, Cunningham had a "bribe menu" on congressional stationery indicating how much he demanded from contractors seeking his help, prosecutors said.

One of the counts against Wilkes involved his secret payments to help Cunningham buy a home in exclusive Rancho Santa Fe.

Wilkes could face 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 28. His attorney, Mark Geragos, vowed to appeal the convictions.

Wade, who testified against Wilkes, has not yet been sentenced.


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