A defense contractor appeared for the first day of his trial Wednesday on charges that he paid 700,000 dollars in bribes to a former prominent US lawmaker who has since been sentenced for corruption.
Federal prosecutors accuse Brent Wilkes, the chief of firm ADCS Inc., of bribing former representative Randall “Duke” Cunningham in exchange for the California politician’s help in winning lucrative government defense contracts.
Cunningham, a 65-year-old Vietnam War veteran, was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison in March 2006 after he pleaded guilty to taking bribes.
The Republican politician, who was a member of the powerful House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, admitted pocketing 2.4 million dollars in kickbacks.
The Justice Department accuses Wilkes of showering Cunningham with “cash, checks, meals, limousine service, corporate jet travel, lodging, furnishings, boats, prostitution services, vacations and entertainment.”
In return for the bribes, the indictment alleged that Cunningham used his public office to influence the awarding of more than 100 million dollars’ worth of defense contracts to Wilkes.
Cunningham has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and could testify in Wilkes’s trial. The defense contractor, who has pleaded not guilty, could face dozens of years in prison if convicted.
The CIA’s former number three official, Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, has also been charged with fraud in connection with the scandal.