WASHINGTON – Former U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham has sold his mansion to a publishing heir for $2.6 million, slightly more than he paid for it two years ago.
Cunningham, who resigned from Congress after pleading guilty to accepting $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors and others in exchange for government business and other favors, signed over the deed to the home on Nov. 7.
Cunningham listed the mansion for sale in August after announcing he would not seek a ninth term in office, but federal prosecutors scared away serious buyers by warning that the house could be forfeited. The sale came together when Cunningham's lawyers and prosecutors agreed to place the proceeds in an escrow account controlled by the government.
Cunningham's wife, Nancy, who jointly owned the property, will seek an agreement with the government to obtain her share of the property from the "untainted proceeds" in the escrow account, said her attorney, Mike Attanasio.
As part of his guilty plea, Cunningham, 64, agreed to forfeit the 7,628-square foot home in Rancho Santa Fe, one of America's wealthiest communities. He bought it for $2.55 million in December 2003 after a defense contractor bought his former home in suburban San Diego at an inflated price.
The buyer of the mansions was Hugh Bancroft III, according to county property records. Bancroft is a member of the family that controls Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal. He did not return a phone message seeking comment.
The sale price reflected a gain of 2 percent over two years at a time home price in Rancho Santa Fe were skyrocketing.
Earlier this week, Cunningham also turned over 40 pieces of furniture that he admitted were given to him as bribes. According to Cunningham's plea agreement, a defense contractor had spent more than $90,000 on antique armoires, washstands, silver-plated candelabras and custom oak and leaded glass doors for the former fighter pilot's home.