With Guilty Verdict, Cunningham Scandal Nears End

By Justin Rood

Nov 6, 2007 5:09pm

One of the final chapters to the Duke Cunningham scandal all but ended Monday, as a jury handed down a guilty verdict for one of the disgraced former congressman’s bribers. A federal jury in San Diego found Brent Wilkes guilty on 13 counts related to his role in the Cunningham scandal, in which he plied the former lawmaker with money, gifts, meals and prostitutes in exchange for millions of dollars in government contracts. Wilkes had pleaded not guilty and his lawyer has vowed to appeal the ruling, although the judge indicated he was unlikely to succeed. Wilkes’ sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 28. Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. At the outset of the investigation, Wilkes was thought to be a prospective key witness for federal prosecutors looking to prosecute public officials who may have been involved in the bribery scheme. But his steadfast refusal to cooperate instead made him a target. By contrast, Cunningham’s other major briber, Mitchell Wade, voluntarily admitted his misdeeds to the feds. His cooperation gave prosecutors much of the ammunition they used against Wilkes at his trial, including eyewitness testimony. After the verdict was read, jurors credited Wade’s testimony with helping sway their thinking. As a result, Wade today is a free man. He continues to cooperate with federal prosecutors, and observers say he is likely to face no more than a few months in prison. Wilkes, meanwhile, faces more than 20 years behind bars. There are two other prosecutions underway in San Diego related to the Cunningham matter. One, against Wilkes and former CIA executive director Dusty Foggo, involves classified information, and public access my be restricted. The other, against Greek financier Thomas Kontogiannis, is
scheduled to be taken up next month. Do you have a tip for Brian Ross and the Investigative Team?

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