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Not-Guilty Pleas Follow Indictments

The Randy “Duke” Cunningham bribery scandal turned another chapter Feb. 13 when a federal grand jury in San Diego indicted Poway defense contractor Brent Wilkes and longtime friend, Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, the former No. 3 person in the Central Intelligence Agency, on a variety of charges, including bribery, wire fraud and money laundering.

On Feb. 14, Wilkes and Foggo entered not guilty pleas before federal Judge Larry Burns. Another defendant named in one of two separate indictments handed up by the grand jury, John Michael, a New York mortgage banker, also entered a not guilty plea on charges of obstruction of justice.

All three were released after Burns set bail for Wilkes at $2 million; for Foggo, $200,000; and for Michael, $250,000.

The latest charges stem from the 2005 conviction of Cunningham, the former congressman for the 51st District in North County, who pleaded guilty to accepting $2.4 million in bribes dating from 1996 in return for his influence in steering what prosecutors said was more than $100 million in defense contracts to Wilkes’ firm, ADCS Inc. Cunningham was sentenced in March to eight years and four months, in prison after pleading guilty.

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According to the first indictment, Wilkes, 52, provided Cunningham about $700,000 in vacations, travel on his corporate jet, boats, services including visits from prostitutes, furniture, many free meals at fancy Washington restaurants, and cash. In return, Cunningham agreed to steer “more than $100 million in defense contracts to Wilkes.”

The second indictment charged former CIA executive director Foggo with using his position in the awarding of several contracts including a $1.7 million contract for bottled water in the Middle East that was marked up 60 percent above the previous contract.

Wilkes and Foggo, who grew up in Chula Vista and attended high school and college together, set up shell companies to conceal the government funding, the indictment alleges.

Foggo, who quit his post last year amid investigations into the alleged connections to Cunningham, did not disclose “tens of thousands of dollars” of gifts from Wilkes in required financial disclosure statements, prosecutors allege in the indictment.

In a statement released by Wilkes’ attorney Mark Geragos, Wilkes said the charges against him were false.

“Let me also say loud and clear: I never bribed Duke Cunningham nor anyone else. He never ‘demanded’ or asked for a bribe from me, and neither he nor anyone else in Congress ever helped my companies with projects for any reason other than their merits.”

In her last press conference before her forced resignation on Feb. 15, U.S. Attorney Carol Lam said the level of wrongdoing by the defendants was “breathtaking in its scope.”

“High government positions and powerful connections should not be tickets to corrupt self-enrichment,” Lam said. “The public trust is not for sale.”

, Mike Allen

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