Skip to comments.Poway contractor guilty of bribing Cunningham (Brent Wilkes)
Posted on 11/05/2007 12:41:35 PM PST by calcowgirl
SAN DIEGO --- A jury on Monday found a Poway defense contractor guilty of bribing former North County Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham.
The contractor, Brent Wilkes, was charged with bribing the Republican politician with more than $625,000 in cash on top of luxury vacations and jet boats in exchange for millions of taxpayer dollars in the form of contracts for his company.
Wilkes faced 13 counts: one count of conspiracy, one count of bribery, one count of money laundering and 10 counts of wire fraud. He was found guilty on all counts Monday morning.
The 53-year-old San Diego County native faces up to 20 years when he is sentenced.
The verdict marks the first time a jury has weighed in on any case emerging from the Cunningham scandal, the largest congressional bribery case ever uncovered.
From 1997 to 2004, Wilkes' company, ADCS Inc., saw more than $80 million in government contracts. Prosecutors said Wilkes greased Cunningham to earmark federal money for Wilkes' company, and had the congressman bully Pentagon staffers who questioned the invoices or the work.
Cunningham, a Navy top-gun pilot turned congressman turned criminal, is serving an eight-year sentence for his admission that he took $2.4 million in bribes.
According to testimony, Wilkes started coming around Cunningham regularly in 1997, right after the congressman won a seat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee. The position allowed the politician to set aside money for pet projects, like those handled by Wilkes' company.
Wilkes repeatedly denied accusations that he bribed the congressman. Wilkes' attorney, Mark Geragos, said his transactions with Cunningham were all legitimate dealings with innocent explanations that prosecutors never looked into.
Wilkes took the stand a week ago and blamed any shady dealings on his one-time consultant, Mitchell Wade, and Joel Combs, Wilkes' nephew and a high-level employee in his company.
In addition to Wilkes and Cunningham, the investigation into the bribery ---- spawned by a newspaper story in 2005 ---- netted charges against three other men: two men, including Wade, who pleaded guilty to a role in bribing the politician, and another man who still faces trial.
Combs testified against his uncle under a grant of immunity.
There has been a rumor to that affect.
“Not long enough for what crooks like this do to the party.”
Forget the party - Not long enough for what crooks like this do to the country!
Brent Wilkes (left, with attorney Mark Geragos)
is seen outside court in downtown San Diego today.