US: Foggo pleads guilty in Wilkes case: Former CIA official fraudulently sent contracts to friend

Publisher Name: 
San Diego Union Tribune - Washington Bureau

Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, the former No. 3 official in the CIA, pleaded guilty yesterday to fraudulently steering intelligence contracts to his lifelong friend, former Poway defense contractor Brent Wilkes.

Foggo is the latest casualty in a federal corruption probe that unveiled a web of bribery and deceit and landed former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham and Wilkes behind bars.

Appearing before U.S. District Court Judge James Cacheris in Alexandria, Va., Foggo admitted to steering CIA business to companies owned by Wilkes while concealing his actions and close relationship with his childhood friend.

Foggo, 53, and Wilkes grew up together in Chula Vista, attended the same junior high and high school and served as best man in each other's weddings.

Prosecutors said the illegal scheme began in December 2002 when Foggo served as a CIA logistics officer in Frankfurt, Germany, and continued after he was promoted to executive director of the agency in late 2004.

Prosecutors highlighted several acts that have been at the center of the case against Foggo, including his efforts to secure a $1.7 million contract for Wilkes to supply bottled water to CIA operatives in Iraq with a 60 percent markup price.

In September 2003, Foggo sent Wilkes an e-mail promising that one of his companies would be "in this deal" to supply the water. Only a month before, Wilkes had taken Foggo and his family on an all-expenses-paid luxury vacation to Scotland.

The plea agreement also mentions that Wilkes had offered Foggo a high-paying job in one of his companies before the scheme began. Wilkes later named Foggo the sole trustee of his life insurance trust.

In return for his plea, prosecutors agreed to dismiss 27 other charges, including allegations that Foggo pulled strings to get a CIA job for a mistress who has not been publicly identified. Prosecutors also agreed to recommend a sentence of no more than 37 months in prison at Foggo's sentencing Jan. 8.

Federal attorneys who prosecuted the case and members of Foggo's defense team declined to discuss his plea.

But several prominent lawyers, including former federal prosecutors, said Foggo's plea agreement and recommended sentence are typical for a first-time offender.

While fighting prosecution, Foggo sought extensive access to classified intelligence files to help with his case.

Stanley Brand, a defense attorney in Washington, D.C., said avoiding disclosure of material in those files may have been a factor in prosecutors' decision to reach a plea deal.

Wilkes is serving a 12-year prison sentence for funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to Cunningham, who used his position in Congress to steer defense contracts to Wilkes. Cunningham, a Republican former congressman from Rancho Santa Fe, is serving an eight-year, four-month sentence for conspiracy and tax evasion in connection with the bribery case.

Foggo was first indicted in San Diego in February 2007. The case was moved to the eastern district of Virginia last February.

AMP Section Name:War & Disaster Profiteering
  • 24 Intelligence
  • 185 Corruption