Defense Contractor Gets 30 Months in Bribe Scandal

As the Duke Cunningham saga wraps up, other lawmakers face probes.

December 15, 2008, 2:02 PM

Dec. 15, 2008— -- A former defense contractor who pleaded guilty to giving a California congressman more than $1.8 million in bribes in exchange for government contracts was sentenced in a federal court in Washington today to 30 months behind bars.

Mitchell Wade, whose cooperation with prosecutors helped jail the lawmaker, ex-Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, was also fined $250,400 and will be on supervised release for 36 months after his release from jail. He is also required to complete 100 hours of community service in the first year after his release, ordered U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Urbina.

In 2006 Wade pleaded guilty to four counts of bribery and election fraud, charges stemming from what prosecutor Howard Sklamberg called Monday "a horrible, disgusting spree of corruption." In exchange for his bribes to Cunningham, Wade's defense company, MZM Inc, received $150 million in government contracts between 2002 and 2005.

Prosecutors had asked Judge Urbina to go easy on Wade because of his extensive and early cooperation with the government.

They argued that Wade's cooperation was crucial to winning a speedy confession from Cunningham, who is now serving a more than eight-year sentence for the scandal. Wade was also the central witness in the corruption trial of another defense contractor connected with Cunningham, Brent Wilkes, who was sentenced this year to 12 years.

Cunningham Scandal Closing in on Members of Congress?

While nearly all of the major figures of the Cunningham scandal have been tried, the government's lawyer suggested that Wade's cooperation had contributed to criminal investigations of members of Congress, some of which remain open. Questioned after the hearing, Sklamberg declined to name which members are under investigation.

Urbina's sentence was a far cry from one-year of home confinement that Wade's attorneys had asked for but it was far less than the maximum 135 months he faced for his conviction. His attorneys had argued that his cooperation was so extensive and had included information about five additional members of congress, none of whom have been charged.

Urbina also agreed to recommend that he be held at the nearby Petersburg, Va. Federal Correctional Complex, and that he not be forced to surrender until after his children's birthdays in January. Petersburg has both low-security and minimum-security facilities.

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