NOVEMBER 06, 2007
The prominent defense contractor who guaranteed he would be vindicated of charges that he bribed a jailed congressman with cash, trips and hookers was convicted by a jury of conspiracy, bribery, money laundering and wire fraud.
After a three-week trial that included graphic testimony of a U.S. Congressman’s rendezvous with prostitutes in a Hawaiian resort Jacuzzi, a San Diego federal jury deliberated only four days before convicting contractor Brent Wilkes.
Wilkes was charged with engineering the largest bribery scheme in congressional history, showering jailed Republican Representative Duke Cunningham with nearly $1 million in perks over a decade in exchange for the lawmaker’s help in securing about $90 million in military contracts.
In 2005 Cunningham, an eight-term congressman, pleaded guilty to accepting $2.4 million from Wilkes and others as well as boats, a luxury car, expensive antiques and stays at upscale resorts. The veteran Republican legislator is currently serving an eight-year federal prison sentence.
Wilkes, who will be sentenced in January 2008, faces two decades in jail. His trial resembled a sleazy soap opera with testimony that included sordid details of Cunningham’s sexual escapades described first hand by a pair of prostitutes the contractor and congressman shared at a lavish Hawaiian resort.
The politically-connected Wilkes, who has served as a Republican presidential and gubernatorial campaign finance chairman, assured that he would be acquitted and even sent reporters a note stating: “I guarantee you, I will be vindicated." Now his high-priced attorney is confident the verdict will get reversed on appeal. In the meantime, a jail cell is in the defense contractor’s eminent future.
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