SAN DIEGO – A defense contractor was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison Tuesday for bribing former U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham with cash, trips, the services of prostitutes and other gifts in exchange for nearly $90 million in Pentagon work.
Brent Wilkes, 53, showed no emotion as U.S. District Judge Larry Burns delivered the sentence. The judge said he was troubled that Wilkes insisted on his innocence even as he was about to go to prison.
"If you were to do the right thing about this, today is the day to own up," Burns said.
"You have no sense of contrition," the judge added. "You had this corrupt relationship with the congressman and you profited from it."
Wilkes, who was immediately taken into federal custody, acknowledged no wrongdoing in a brief statement in which he asked the judge to look beyond his dealings with Cunningham.
"I am a man who cares deeply for this community, for my family, for my country," said Wilkes, who was convicted by a jury in November on 13 counts of bribery, conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering.
The punishment was much lighter than the 25 years the government sought or the 60 years recommended by federal probation officials.
Wilkes' attorney, Mark Geragos, asked for less than the eight years and four months Cunningham received. He said Tuesday that he filed a notice to appeal the verdict.
The government still may seek additional charges against Wilkes in a separate corruption case involving a former top CIA official, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo.
"Brent Wilkes has earned every day of the sentence he received," said U.S. Attorney Karen Hewitt.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Halpern called Wilkes "a predatory wolf (in) self-styled patriot's clothing" and a "poster boy for war profiteering."
"To be completely and totally unrepentant to his crime is shocking," Halpern said.
Prosecutors argued during a three-week trial that Wilkes lavished Cunningham with more than $700,000 in perks -- everything from cash to submachine gun shooting lessons and the services of prostitutes during a stay at a Hawaiian resort.
In return, they said, Cunningham helped Wilkes secure $87 million in Pentagon contracts, mainly for scanning paper documents.
Cunningham, an eight-term Republican congressman and Vietnam War flying ace, pleaded guilty in 2005 to accepting $2.4 million in bribes from Wilkes and others -- including antiques, boats, a used Rolls-Royce and cash to pay the mortgage on his mansion.
Wilkes insisted on his innocence since he was charged almost exactly one year ago. In eight hours on the witness stand, he testified that his transactions with Cunningham were legitimate and flatly denied bribing him or any other lawmakers.
He blamed wrongdoing on others, particularly his former employee Mitchell Wade, who in 2006 admitted giving Cunningham more than $1 million in kickbacks for about $150 million in government contracts. Wade awaits sentencing.
Neither side called on Cunningham to testify.
Authorities said Wilkes bribed Cunningham to win work for a company he owned, ADCS Inc., a data and document storage company based in Poway, near San Diego.
"Wilkes coldly and successfully exploited the simplemindedness of one of this country's war heroes, now a tortured shadow of his former self," prosecutors wrote in a pre-sentencing court filing last week. "Wilkes stands now revealed as a war profiteer, a thug, a bully, a lecherous old man who preyed on his young female staffers and hired prostitutes."
Wilkes and Foggo, the CIA's former No. 3 official, were charged in a separate corruption case last year that alleged Wilkes gave Foggo meals, trips and other perks. Wilkes was also accused of promising Foggo, a childhood friend, a job upon retirement.
In that case, Wilkes and Foggo each pleaded not guilty to 30 counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.
Burns moved that case Tuesday from San Diego to the Eastern District of Virginia, at Foggo's request. The judge dismissed charges against Wilkes in that case after prosecutors dropped objections, but the government can indict him on the same charges in Virginia.
Prosecutors declined to say Tuesday if they will charge Wilkes in Virginia.
"The decision on whether or not to re-indict Mr. Wilkes will wait for another day," Jason Forge, an assistant U.S. attorney, told the judge.