From North County Times:
SAN DIEGO — Showing no emotion and still denying the charges, former defense contractor Brent Wilkes was sentenced Tuesday to 12 years for bribing U.S. Rep Randy “Duke” Cunningham with cash, lavish vacations and evenings with prostitutes.
[U.S. District Judge Larry Alan] Burns harshly criticized Wilkes in court Tuesday as he handed down the prison sentence of 144 months.
“You have to this moment not indicated a sense of contrition,” Burns said to Wilkes. “You continue to deny what is obvious: … You had this corrupt relationship with the congressman and you profited from it.”
Following a month-long trial, a jury convicted Wilkes on Nov. 5 of 13 counts, including bribery, conspiracy, money laundering and wire fraud.
In court documents, prosecutors described Wilkes as the spider and Cunningham the fly in the corruption case, characterizing Wilkes as “the poster boy for war profiteering.”
At trial last fall, prosecutors told the jury that Wilkes bribed Cunningham to win more than $80 million in defense contracts for Wilkes’ document scanning company, ADCS Inc.
Wilkes took the stand and denied the claims. He blamed wrongdoing on others, including his one-time employee — later turned competitor — Mitchell Wade, who admitted that he’d bribed Cunningham to the tune of $2.4 million.
The judge also said Wilkes was a “shrewd” man who recognized that Cunningham had an “overblown ego” and could be easily exploited. During the trial, witnesses often described Cunningham as a man of lesser intelligence.
Cunningham was “ripe for manipulation, and you took advantage of that,” Burns said.
Burns pointed out that Cunningham tearfully apologized for his crimes, and that when Cunningham appeared at his sentencing hearing two years ago, the Top Gun Navy pilot turned congressman turned criminal was “a broken man.”
“Your situation is different,” Burns said to Wilkes.
But the judge also said it was still not clear to him who the ringleader was, noting that Cunningham was also taking bribes from Wade.
From Sign On San Diego:
A jury convicted Wilkes on Nov. 5 of conspiracy, bribery, fraud and money laundering. Evidence at the trial showed he showered expensive meals, gifts, fancy trips and cash bribes on Cunningham.
In one now-infamous instance, prosecutors said Wilkes paid for two prostitutes for himself and Cunningham while on a lavish vacation in Hawaii. During his testimony, Wilkes denied hiring them or having sex with them.
In the court papers, prosecutors said Wilkes was “a frequent and enthusiastic patron of prostitutes” and said he kept in his office safe a tape of him having sex with two prostitutes.
In exchange for the gifts and money, the veteran congressman – who had a seat on a powerful defense committee – used his influence to earmark money in budgets and steer projects that benefited ADCS Inc., the Poway defense contracting firm that Wilkes owned.
The government said that the contracts were not only corruptly gained but that Wilkes gouged taxpayers and delivered shoddy work, all to increase his profits.
In one instance – an example of what prosecutors called “war profiteering” – Wilkes got Cunningham to divert $4 million originally budgeted in an anti-terrorism bill after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and channel it to a program for ADCS.
In total, an investigator said in court papers that the federal government lost at least $30 million and as much as $60 million on the contracts that ADCS was involved in.
Here’s a little look back, kids. This is from USA Today, from November 25, 2005 (which is not today, so should I have said this is from USA ACouplaYearsAgo?):
WASHINGTON — A San Diego businessman under investigation in the bribery case of former congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham is a well-known GOP fundraiser whose generosity to key members of Congress came at the same time his company saw large increases in its government contracts, public records show.
Brent Wilkes, the founder of defense contractor ADCS Inc., gave more than $840,000 in contributions to 32 House members or candidates, campaign-finance records show. He flew Republican lawmakers on his private jet and hired lobbyists with close ties to those lawmakers.
Wilkes was also a “Pioneer” for President Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, meaning he raised at least $100,000.
With help from two committee chairmen, ADCS got more than $90 million in government contracts since its founding in 1995, helping propel Wilkes from an obscure businessman to a millionaire prominent in Republican circles.
Since 1994, Wilkes and ADCS gave $40,700 in campaign contributions to Rep. Duncan Hunter, a San Diego Republican who now chairs the House Armed Services Committee. Hunter has acknowledged that he joined with Cunningham in 1999 to contact Pentagon officials who reversed a decision and gave ADCS one of its first big contracts, for nearly $10 million.
Another California Republican, Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis, led panels that ordered the Pentagon to continue programs that aided ADCS when Pentagon officials wanted to cut them. Lewis got $71,253 from Wilkes and his employees in donations since 1993.
Before becoming the Appropriations chairman this year, Lewis led the subcommittee that oversees defense spending. In the late 1990s, that panel directed the Pentagon to continue converting paper documents to computer records, the work that ADCS does. Pentagon officials had tried to end the program’s funding.
Wilkes’ ties to Hunter and Cunningham go beyond campaign contributions. In 2003, the businessman’s foundation hosted a “Salute to Heroes” gala to give Hunter an award, just as it did for Cunningham a year earlier. The Wilkes Foundation gave $1,000 in 2003 to a charity run by two of Hunter’s staffers, records show.
Wilkes also provided a jet that Cunningham and other Republicans used for more than a dozen flights to campaign fundraising events since 2001, records show.
Providing flights gives donors a chance for hours of one-on-one contact with the lawmaker they want to influence, said Keith Ashdown of the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense.
Here’s another little look back, this time from Sign On San Diego, February 13, 2007:
SAN DIEGO – Poway defense contractor Brent Wilkes and former high-ranking CIA official Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, childhood friends from San Diego who got entangled in the Randy “Duke” Cunningham corruption scandal, were indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury.
U.S. Attorney Carol Lam announced the indictments at an afternoon press conference, calling the charges against the two men “breathtaking in scope.”
Did you notice the name of the U. S. Attorney, kids? Carol Lam! Carol Lam, as in one of the U. S. Attorneys who got fired in the whole Gonzogate drama! Read the article. There all kinds of twists and turns and a cast of characters that the best novelist or screenwriter couldn’t have thunk up.
I can’t wait for the movie!!!