Bribery in the Beltway
A year after U.S. Congressman Randall "Duke" Cunningham was sentenced to prison in one the biggest federal information-technology scandals ever, details about the case continue to emerge.On March 3, 2006, Randall "Duke" Cunningham was sentenced to eight years and four months in federal prison. Cunningham, who in March 2005 resigned in disgrace from Congress, had admitted taking at least $2.4 million in bribes from information-technology contractors in exchange for helping them secure hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts from the Pentagon and the intelligence community. The case received enormous publicity. A Navy flying ace during the Vietnam War, Cunningham had demanded and received expensive gifts, a yacht, a Rolls-Royce, the services of prostitutes and even had one of the contractors foot the bill for his daughters graduation party, according to charges filed in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of California. Cunningham had taken payoffs on a scale that is unprecedented in the history of Congress. "In the sheer dollar amount, he is the most corrupt [in the history of Congress]," Deputy House Historian Fred W. Beuttler told CBS News at the time of his sentencing.
One year later, the case has seemingly run its course. Cunningham is in prison. And, of the two contractors the government says bought Cunninghams influence, one, Mitchell J. Wade, chief executive officer of Washington, D.C., high-tech company MZM, pleaded guilty in February 2006 to conspiring to bribe Cunningham, among other charges; the other, Brent Roger Wilkes, president of ADCS, a Poway, Calif., data conversion and information management company, was indicted on Feb. 13, 2007, for bribing Cunningham. Wilkes issued a statement through his lawyer saying he is innocent of the charge.