US: 12 Years for Contractor in Bribery Case

Publisher Name: 
AP

SAN DIEGO (AP) - A defense contractor was sentenced to 12 years in
federal prison Tuesday for bribing former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham
with cash, trips, the services of prostitutes and other gifts in
exchange for nearly $90 million in Pentagon work.

Brent Wilkes
was labeled "a predatory wolf (in) self-styled patriot's clothing" and
a "poster boy for war profiteering" by prosecutor Phillip Halpern. U.S.
District Judge Larry Burns said he was troubled that Wilkes continued
to maintain his innocence.

"If you were to do the right thing about this, today is the day to own up," Burns told Wilkes at the sentencing hearing.

"You
have no sense of contrition," the judge added. "You had this corrupt
relationship with the congressman and you profited from it."

Wilkes, 53, was convicted in November on 13 counts of bribery, conspiracy and wire fraud.

Prosecutors
argued during a three-week trial that Wilkes lavished Cunningham with
more than $700,000 in perks, including cash, submachine gun shooting
lessons and the services of prostitutes. In return, they said,
Cunningham helped Wilkes secure $87 million in Pentagon contracts,
mainly for scanning paper documents.

Wilkes' attorney asked for a
sentence less than the eight years and four months Cunningham received.
Prosecutors asked for a "significantly higher punishment," and federal
probation officials had recommended 60 years.

Wilkes acknowledged no wrongdoing in a brief statement in which he asked the judge to look beyond his dealings with Cunningham.

"I am a man who cares deeply for this community, for my family, for my country," Wilkes said.

Cunningham,
an eight-term Republican congressman and Vietnam War flying ace,
pleaded guilty in 2005 to accepting $2.4 million in bribes from Wilkes
and others - including antiques, boats, a used Rolls-Royce and cash to
pay the mortgage on his mansion.

Wilkes has insisted on his
innocence since he was charged almost exactly one year ago. In eight
hours on the witness stand, he testified that his transactions with
Cunningham were legitimate and flatly denied bribing him or any other
lawmakers.

He blamed wrongdoing on others, particularly his
former employee Mitchell Wade, who in 2006 admitted giving Cunningham
more than $1 million in kickbacks for about $150 million in government
contracts. Wade awaits sentencing.

Neither side called on Cunningham to testify.

Authorities said Wilkes bribed Cunningham to win work for ADCS Inc., a data and document storage company he owned.

"Wilkes
coldly and successfully exploited the simplemindedness of one of this
country's war heroes, now a tortured shadow of his former self,"
prosecutors wrote in a pre-sentencing court filing last week. "Wilkes
stands now revealed as a war profiteer, a thug, a bully, a lecherous
old man who preyed on his young female staffers and hired prostitutes."

Wilkes
and a former top CIA official, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, were charged in a
separate corruption case last year that alleged Wilkes gave Foggo
meals, trips and other perks. Wilkes was also accused of promising
Foggo, a childhood friend, a job upon retirement.

In that case, Wilkes and Foggo have each pleaded not guilty to 30 counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.

Federal
prosecutors said last week that they would drop charges against Wilkes
in that case but reserved the right to indict him on the same or
similar charges. The government also dropped objections to moving the
case against Foggo, the CIA's former No. 3 official, from San Diego to
Virginia.

AMP Section Name:War & Disaster Profiteering
  • 106 Money & Politics
  • 176 War Profiteers Site
  • 185 Corruption