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Corruption Chronicles

Jail For Contractor Who Bribed Rep. Cunningham

The once-influential defense contractor and prominent Republican campaign contributor who bribed a jailed California congressman with money, prostitutes and other items will go to prison for more than a decade.

A San Diego judge actually spared contractor Brent Wilkes, issuing a 12-year jail sentence that is significantly less than what federal sentencing guidelines suggest and about half as long as the term sought by federal prosecutors.

Wilkes was at the center of an unprecedented congressional bribery scandal that sent veteran Republican Congressman Randy Cunningham to prison for eight years for accepting millions of dollars in bribes from Wilkes and another contractor in exchange for nearly $90 million in Pentagon contracts.

Although a jury convicted Wilkes of 13 counts of bribery, conspiracy, fraud and money laundering in November 2007, the 53-year-old contractor has maintained his innocence. Evidence indicated otherwise, however. Wilkes funneled $636,000 in cash bribes to Cunningham and he showered the congressman with expensive meals, lavish gifts, trips and prostitutes during a decade.

Clueless federal authorities launched an investigation only after a local San Diego newspaper published a story in mid 2005 disclosing that another contractor involved in the bribery scandal had purchased Cunningham’s home for an inflated price. The contractor, Mitchell Wade, pleaded guilty to bribing Cunningham for more than $1 million and his sentencing date has not been set.


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