- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 20, 2008

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A defense contractor was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison yesterday for bribing former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham with cash, trips and other gifts in exchange for nearly $90 million in Pentagon work.

Brent Wilkes showed no emotion as U.S. District Judge Larry Burns meted out the sentence. Federal probation officials had recommended a 60-year prison sentence for Wilkes, 53, who 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.

Cunningham, an eight-term Republican congressman and Vietnam War flying ace, is serving eight years, four months in federal prison. He 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 an estimated $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 and a former top CIA official, Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, were charged in a separate corruption case last year that charged Wilkes gave Mr. Foggo meals, trips and other perks. Wilkes was also accused of promising Mr. Foggo, a childhood friend, a job upon retirement.

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

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