Cunningham, Randall Harold

From Bwtm

Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham resigned in disgrace yesterday after admitting he took more than $2.4 million in bribes to help defense contractors land lucrative government contracts.
Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham resigned in disgrace yesterday after admitting he took more than $2.4 million in bribes to help defense contractors land lucrative government contracts.
Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham is a Congressman we can be proud of.


News 2012, 2014

A former Republican member of Congress is ready to join the fight for sentencing reform and rolling back harsh mandatory minimums for drug crimes. Only this one has a bit more experience with the federal prison system than a typical politician does. Former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.), 72, is now a free man after a federal judge ended his supervised release early following seven years in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons on corruption charges. He had served in Congress from 1991 to 2005. In a letter he sent to the media when he was still behind bars in 2011, Cunningham said he planned to dedicate his life to prison reform and Justice Department reform. "I'm not going to give you their names, but I've already called some Republican and Democrat friends of mine and told them that I would make myself available to testify if they could protect me from you guys when I come back there," Cunningham told HuffPost, adding that he was worried "you paparazzi would eat me alive" if he ever came back to Capitol Hill. "Unfortunately, some of my Democrat colleagues were right and I was wrong on some issues as far as criminal justice," Cunningham said, specifically regretting votes for mandatory minimums for drug crimes that take discretion away from federal judges and give federal prosecutors a tremendous amount of leverage over defendants. "We have taken out of the judge's hands the ability to be merciful in some reasons or to do the right thing," Cunningham said. "I've heard case after case where the judges have said, 'I wish I could help you, but my hands are tied.' I want to untie the hands of our judges." Cunningham said he's done a "180 turn" on criminal justice, and wishes he could take back many of the votes he made back when he was a member of Congress. "My Democrat colleagues would support the lawyers. We'd support the prosecutors," he said. "I think I'd vote more with my Democrat colleagues today." Cunningham says he still hasn't forgiven himself for accepting millions in bribes from defense contractors, and again apologized to those whose trust he violated. But he said he wants to use any influence he can still muster to influence changes in what he refers to as the December of his life.

Cunningham wins freedom early. Former Congressman was to have federal monitors for two more years. Federal prosecutors opposed stopping the supervision. In a brief response, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Phillip Halpern and Valerie Chu said the office has a policy against ending supervised release early unless someone has completed at least two-thirds of their term, and paid any restitution they have been ordered as part of their sentence. That is unlikely to ever happen with Cunningham, who owes $1.8 million in restitution, as well as hundreds of thousands in back taxes and interest to the Internal Revenue Service. In his letter to Burns he said the IRS takes $23,000 from his savings per year, and another $3,000 per month from his retirement accounts to pay his debts. Cunningham gets a pension from both his time in Congress and military service, estimated at $65,000 per year by a taxpayers group.

Imprisoned ex-congressman wants gun rights restored.

"Feasting on the Spoils: The Life and Times of Randy Cunningham, History's Most Corrupt Congressman."

The Downing of an American Ace

The Unanswered Question in 'Nathan and the Duke'

Duke to Newt: I've Got Your Back.

Randal Cunningham should die in prison

Disgraced Congressman Talks To 10News. Randy 'Duke' Cunningham Pleaded Guilty In Bribery Case. Cunningham is being held at the Federal Correctional Complex in Tucson, Ariz. He has been there since he signed a plea agreement admitting his guilt that stemmed from an investigation over the inflated sale of his home in Del Mar to a defense contractor, who was awarded multi-million dollar government contracts. Cunningham, in turn, bought a Rancho Santa Fe mansion and admitted to accepting furniture, carpet and other items. "I accepted furnishings and carpet which I rationalized as gifts, but I never accepted a bribe from anybody," said Cunningham. When asked why he signed the plea agreement, Cunningham said he was under duress. "I hadn't slept. I was taking medications and they [Cunningham's lawyers] said the government will go after my family if I don't sign," he said.

Randy “Duke” Cunningham wants out of prison early, and a few people across the United States have written the federal government to say he deserves that chance. Randy "Duke" Hunter. Cunningham, the disgraced former congressman, who was sentenced in 2006 to eight years and four months in prison for conspiracy and tax evasion, asked President Bush in December to commute his sentence before a new administration takes over the White House. The U.S. Justice Department's Office of the Pardon Attorney will not make public the clemency request, citing Cunningham's right to privacy. But the department has released copies of eight letters urging Bush to exercise his authority as a “last hope” that Cunningham, 66, can leave prison alive. The letters, disclosed under the federal Freedom of Information Act with the authors' names redacted for privacy reasons, make up a small portion of Cunningham's 425-page clemency file. Letter writers from Point Loma, New Jersey, Virginia, Florida, Arizona, Oklahoma and Missouri generally acknowledge his crimes, yet they plead compassion for a man one writer calls a “truly great American” for his bravery as a Navy fighter pilot during the Vietnam War.

these letters are really misguided.

A laughable pardon request

Petition Seeking Pardon For Cunningham Has Just 13 Signatures After Three Years.

If anything, corrupt Randy 'Duke' Cunningham got off easy

July 27, 2008

In the words of U.S. Justice Department pardon expert Roger C. Adams, “A presidential pardon serves as an official statement of forgiveness for the commission of a federal crime.” Thanks to the extent of Randy “Duke” Cunningham's amply documented corruption, reports that the imprisoned former Republican congressman from Rancho Santa Fe had petitioned President George W. Bush for such official forgiveness were quickly met with bafflement and derision.

Nevertheless, Cunningham's pardon request deserves serious comment. Lame-duck presidents do odd things in their final days. (Bill Clinton's decision to pardon fugitive financier Marc Rich remains the single most inexplicable act of his eight years in the White House.) Cunningham's war-hero history just might win him sympathy in the Oval Office.

We hope that is not the case and urge the president to dismiss Cunningham's pardon bid. If anything, Cunningham got off easy in March 2006 when he received an eight-year, four-month prison sentence for taking $2.4 million worth of bribes – including a yacht, a Rolls-Royce, Persian carpets, candelabras, prostitute services and much more – from defense companies he helped win government contracts.

Yet even after his conviction, the former Navy aviator had the gall to depict himself as a victim, not a crook, in a September 2006 letter to Marcus Stern, the Copley News Service reporter who first brought his corruption to light.

But even if Cunningham were contrite, a pardon would still be unjustified. The man who ran what The Washington Post called “the most brazen bribery conspiracy in modern congressional history” must serve his time.

Cunningham: official portrait of hero turned traitor.

A pardon for 'Duke'? Don't make us all puke

July 24, 2008

Over the weekend, a national news story caught North County's fading black eye – and poked it again.

As the Bush administration winds down, petitions for pardons are spiking, it seems. Roughly 2,300 felons – some famous, most not – are seeking clemency.

Dating back to George Washington's amnesty for the leaders of the Whiskey Rebellion, presidents have exercised this sweeping pardon power enumerated in the Constitution.

Given the natural desire for freedom, it would be news if convicted criminals didn't plead for mercy.

Though President Bush has been relatively stingy when compared with other modern presidents, he could open the floodgates the way Bill Clinton did in his shameless final hours.

Still, it struck many locals as shocking that Randall Harold Cunningham – in happier times known by the cuddly given name of “Randy” or the macho honorific “Duke” – had the gall to join the throng of mercy beggars.

People seemed genuinely surprised that the former congressman was seeking divine deliverance from his prison sentence.

Upon reflection, however, Cunningham's appearance on the list makes perfect psychological sense.

Anyone who thinks otherwise wasn't paying close attention during the rise and fall of the nation's most corrupt congressman ever tossed on ice.

In the book “The Wrong Stuff,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning team of writers describes Cunningham's penchant for magical thinking after his tear-stained mea culpa at his 2006 sentencing to more than eight years in prison:

“Randy Cunningham's pledge to Judge Burns that 'repentance will be a lifelong endeavor' didn't last all that long. Less than an hour after proclaiming in open court that 'no man has every been more sorry' and declaring that he had 'accepted responsibility' for his illegal actions, the disgraced former congressman struck a much different note in his jail cell at the San Diego Metropolitan Correctional Center. Dave Dallaire, who was overseeing his security now that he had been taken into custody, heard Cunningham backpedal. 'He said this was a misunderstanding and he thought he was being ram-rodded into this,' recalled the deputy federal marshal.

“All that contrition and regret voiced just a few minutes earlier in the courtroom had morphed into the lament so familiar from convicts everywhere. It was a variation of 'I didn't do it; I don't belong here' that Dallaire had heard from so many others before.

“To those insiders who had dealt with Cunningham during the legal process, and to members of Cunningham's inner circle, this was no surprise. They knew that in private he was still rationalizing and defending his actions even while issuing apologetic public statements. No one saw this more clearly than Nancy Cunningham, who received frequent phone calls from her estranged husband after he was taken to prison. . . . 'He claims he's innocent, that he's been railroaded by the government, that he shouldn't be in prison. He says he signed the plea agreement under duress,' Nancy told Kitty Kelley in 2006. 'He even thinks he will be pardoned by President Bush,' she added, incredulously.”

In a sense, Cunningham's delusional request for presidential clemency is reassuring. It means the Navy ace hasn't changed his stripes now that he's worn them for a couple of years.

Now residing in a Tucson prison, Cunningham, 66, evidently still feels entitled to a hero's adulation. He still believes that the country he valiantly served in Vietnam owes him everything, including his freedom from the penitence he claimed in a courtroom to have embraced for the rest of his life.

As spectators of the human comedy, we have to love this old scoundrel. After all, North County helped him reach his full potential.

He was always an embarrassing buffoon while cavorting in office but, so long as he delivered pork to the 50th District, he was repeatedly pardoned at the polls.

Even after he'd been caught red-handed taking bribes from war profiteers – in effect, selling out his country for the posh country club – die-hard supporters hung with Cunningham until the bitter end, feeding his insane delusion that he was a guiltless victim who deserved a break.

If Cunningham hadn't sought presidential clemency, we might have had to add the role of sincere penitent to the official portrait of hero turned traitor.

As Cunningham's unpardonable petition proves, no revision is necessary.

"I had sex with No. 2," Rozetta said.

Prostitutes testify in trial of Duke's former associate

Wilkes allegedly lined up trip to Hawaiian resort

October 18, 2007 SAN DIEGO -- A trial about power, bribery and a dirty politician took another tawdry turn Wednesday, as a hooker from Hawaii testified that Poway businessman Brent Wilkes argued with former North County Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham over who would get the prettier of two prostitutes.

Wilkes won.

Soon after that, his government contracts dried up.

The men's dispute over the two prostitutes -- while chomping on cigars and soaking with the naked women in a private Jacuzzi in a Hawaiian resort -- happened at a crucial time.

One of Wilkes' competitors was out-bribing Wilkes to line Cunningham's pockets in 2003, according to testimony Wednesday, so Wilkes raised the stakes. Wilkes and the congressman flew to Hawaii, where Wilkes' nephew lined up two $300-an-hour hookers, the nephew told the jury Wednesday.

But Wilkes got the prettier one. And Cunningham wasn't happy.

"There was a bit of a disagreement between the two of them," one of the prostitutes, Tammy McFadden, testified Wednesday.

McFadden said she ended up with Wilkes that August night in 2003.

"Did the other client (Cunningham) feel he got the short end of the straw?" Assistant U.S. Attorney Phil Halpern asked.

"Yes," McFadden replied. "And he was vocal about it."

The two escorts were the last witnesses for the prosecution in their case against Wilkes, who is accused of plying Cunningham with $700,000 in cash and gifts in exchange for more than $80 million in government contracts between 1997 and 2004.

Wilkes, a 53-year-old San Diego County native, has pleaded not guilty to 14 charges, including bribery, fraud, money laundering and committing unlawful monetary transactions. He faces up to 20 years if convicted.

Wilkes' attorney, Mark Geragos, contends that the expensive dinners and private jet trips to which Wilkes treated Cunningham are simply the way Washington works.

The government rested its case late Wednesday -- but without calling Cunningham to the stand. Geragos declined to say whether he plans to call the now-jailed former politician to testify for the defense, which begins its case this morning.

The congressman became the center of a tug of war between Wilkes and Mitchell Wade, according to testimony.

Mitchell Wade once worked as a consultant for Wilkes.

'Upping the ante'

But in 2001, Wade -- while still working for Wilkes -- went behind Wilkes' back. He started his own defense contracting firm, and began bribing Cunningham to win the same types of defense contracts Wilkes' company handled, according to testimony thus far in the seven-day trial.

By 2003, Wade was winning the game, slipping bigger bribes to the North County politician, Wilkes' nephew, Joel Combs, told the jury Wednesday.

Seeing contracts going to Wade made Wilkes furious, Combs testified.

"Brent said Mitchell was 'upping the ante,' " said Combs, who worked for his uncle for about a decade -- and whom he says helped grease Cunningham on Wilkes' behalf.

Telling his tale under a grant of immunity, Combs was a star witness for the government. He spent most of Wednesday on the stand.

Combs said his uncle had treated Cunningham to concerts, luxury box seats for the Super Bowl, resort getaways and golf vacations. The fine meals he bought for the politician over the course of four years totaled more than $150,000, Combs said.

And in return, Cunningham earmarked taxpayer funds for contracts to steer to Wilkes' Poway-based ADCS, which handled document scanning for the government.

The politician was also "our problem-solver," Combs said. Cunningham bullied government employees who questioned Wilkes' work or invoices, according to previous testimony.

With Wade in the picture, Wilkes' business soured.

When Wilkes figured out that Wade had bought expensive antique furniture for the congressman, Wilkes raised the stakes, Combs said.

Wilkes and Combs took Cunningham for a lavish vacation at a Hawaiian resort, Combs said. They stayed in a $6,000-a-night villa with a private pool and Jacuzzi on the lanai.

They went diving in warm waters among coral reefs. They played poker. They partied with hookers. All of it paid for by Wilkes, Combs said.

But a few months later, the stakes got higher, it appears. Wade bought the congressman's Del Mar home -- for $700,000 more than it was worth.

Cunningham steered government contracts worth millions in taxpayer funds to Wade. Wilkes' company was shut out.

Cunningham is behind bars now, serving eight years and four months for admitting he took $2.4 million in bribes in exchange for steering government contracts.

Wade, too, has pleaded guilty to bribing Cunningham, although he has not been sentenced. Wilkes is Wade's one-time boss, and he introduced Wade to Cunningham.

Wade testified last week that he learned the bribery game from Wilkes.

Combs admitted he lied to the FBI when federal agents raided his Washington D.C.-area office. Halpern asked Combs whom he thought his lies would protect.

"Brent. And myself," Combs answered with a hard frown, his voice choking as he fought tears.

He and his uncle did not look toward each other during his nearly daylong testimony.

While cross-examining Combs, Geragos depicted Combs as a ne'er-do-well nephew, a screw-up who relied on his uncle for a job.

Prostitutes in the tub

And at the end of the day, after Combs left the stand, the decorum of the federal courtroom gave way a bit to nervous laughter as McFadden and the other prostitute, Donna Rozetta, testified about their encounters with Wilkes and Cunningham.

Rozetta, wearing low-rise jeans, a T-shirt and a cropped black sweatshirt, told the jury that she and McFadden were driven to the hotel and brought to the suite to meet their two clients.

"They asked us if we wanted to get naked and get into the Jacuzzi," Rozetta said.

"What did you do," prosecutor Halpern asked.

"We got naked and got in the Jacuzzi," Rozetta replied.

She said she ended up with the older of the two men, one with "heavy jowls and a puffy face," and that he fed her grapes as they soaked in the hot tub.

She identified Cunningham in a photo lineup shown to the jury. Cunningham's was the second of six pictures.

"I had sex with No. 2," Rozetta said.

McFadden, with long wavy blond hair and dressed in a black pants suit, described Cunningham as "the boisterous one" and "overbearing."

McFadden said she returned to the suite the next night, but this time she came with a different woman.

Cunningham on way to work camp, lawyer says

Low-security prison will be new home

Ex-lawmaker Randy "Duke" Cunningham is serving eight years for taking bribes.

January 6, 2007 Former Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham is headed to a federal prison camp outside Tucson, Ariz., his lawyer said yesterday.

Cunningham was sentenced March 3 to eight years, four months in prison for conspiracy and tax evasion after admitting he took more than $2.4 million in bribes from federal contractors.

“He's doing reasonably well,” lawyer K. Lee Blalack said in an interview. “He's adjusting to life in prison and trying to make the best of his circumstance and continue down the path that he started when he entered his plea and apologized to the world and his family and his constituents.” (Cunninham has not accepted responsibility. ed)

Cunningham once represented North County in the House and was chairman of subcommittee that oversaw Pentagon spending.

The 65-year-old Republican has spent the past 10 months in a prison in Butner, N.C., where doctors evaluated his health and assessed the best place to house him.

Blalack initially asked prison officials to place him in a privately run prison in Taft, near Bakersfield, so he could be close to friends and family in San Diego.

Yesterday, Cunningham was at a prison transfer facility at the airport in Oklahoma City.

A Bureau of Prisons spokesman in Washington wouldn't confirm that Cunningham was headed to Tucson. A spokesman at the Tucson work camp said he would answer questions submitted by e-mail, but never did.

Camps are among the lowest-security facilities in the federal prison system and are typically home to prisoners with a short time left in their sentences, said criminologist Jeffrey Ian Ross.

“It just seems kind of odd that (he's going to) a work camp,” Ross said of Cunningham. “It might have a lot to do with how he was assessed in that 10 months.” A federal judge in San Diego had requested the evaluation.

Ross called the notion of a “Club Fed” – easy time in an comfortable environment – a myth.

At work camps, prisoners typically live in barracks and are told when they wake up, go to sleep, eat, shower and work.

But he said the camp would be full of people in similar situations as the corrupt politician.

“He will be in with other kinds of white-collar criminals,” said Ross, who co-authored “Behind Bars: Surviving Prison” and teaches at the University of Baltimore.

“It's a different class of criminal who is sentenced there,” he said.

Inmates at prison camps typically cook, clean and do groundskeeping, he said.

The Tucson camp houses about 120 inmates and is on a sprawling federal complex.

Inmates at the camp work there and at an adjacent medium-security prison with about 700 inmates. A high-security prison is set to open at the complex this year.

In 1995, Cunningham was co-author of the No Frills Prison Act targeting what some saw as “luxurious” conditions in prisons. It sought to ban unmonitored phone calls, TVs in cells, R-rated movies, food better than what enlisted Army personnel get or unauthorized hygiene products or clothing.

The measure failed.

Meanwhile, the investigation into his misdeeds continues, with federal agents recently serving subpoenas on three House committees.

Bilbray, Cunningham on the move again

It's not just Cunningham, you know

Court may unseal records in Cunningham matter

Secret proceedings are linked to federal bribery case against associates of jailed ex-congressman.

June 30, 2007

SAN DIEGO — A federal appeals court said Friday that it would hear arguments on whether to unseal records of secret court proceedings linked to the government's bribery case against associates of jailed former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

The 9th District Court of Appeals entered the case of New York financier Thomas Kontogiannis, who pleaded guilty in closed court in February to illegally helping finance the congressman's purchase of a $2.5-million Rancho Santa Fe mansion.

The plea agreement was unsealed June 13.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns had ordered the release of transcripts of four hearings held in San Diego federal court in February and April that contain details about why Kontogiannis' plea was sealed for four months.

Government lawyers objected in sealed motions last week, citing federal statutes protecting classified information.

The appeals court ordered a hearing in early August.

At a previously scheduled hearing Friday in San Diego, Burns chided prosecutors for reneging on an earlier understanding that records of the secret hearings would eventually be made public.

"Given the extraordinary nature of this, I think the public at least has a right to know the right procedures were followed," the judge said.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Jason Forge responded that the government had changed its mind about what details of the case were sensitive.

"Now that we have a full appreciation for the scope of the category of information that should not be disclosed, we're asking the court to agree and revise the earlier agreement," he said.

Kontogiannis is expected to be called as a government witness against his nephew, Long Island mortgage banker John Michael, and his co-defendant, Poway defense contractor Brent Wilkes.

The two men have pleaded not guilty to multiple charges of money laundering and unlawful monetary transactions.

Wilkes has additionally pleaded not guilty to bribing Cunningham in return for government contracts.

Their case is set for trial before Burns in September.

Michael's attorney, Ray Granger, said his client has a right to know the extent of Kontogiannis' cooperation with the government if he is to appear as a witness in that case.

"The government effectively sucker-punched Judge Burns," Granger said after the hearing.

A message left with Wilkes' attorney seeking comment was not returned.

Cunningham pleaded guilty in November 2005 to taking $2.4 million in bribes from Wilkes and other defense contractors in exchange for millions of dollars in government contracts.

The former Republican lawmaker from San Diego is serving a sentence of more than eight years in federal prison.,1,7519316.story?coll=la-headlines-california

Don't let corruption hide in plain sight

March 03, 2007 By: JOHN LEE EVANS - commentary

With the books coming out on the "rise and fall" of Duke Cunningham ("Two books on Cunningham due soon"), I am reminded of the adage, "Don't kick a man when he is down." Cunningham is an easy target as he sits in prison.

As a psychologist I see a lot to analyze in the personality of Duke Cunningham, which these books will certainly do. However, we the voters of the 50th District also bear some responsibility in this saga. We continued to re-elect a man whose character defects were apparent even on the surface. The local media also bear some responsibility, as they failed to call sufficient attention to Duke Cunningham's problems.

The situation has been portrayed as one in which no one could have known how corrupt our hero was. In fact, he was "hiding in plain sight."

Long before his prosecution, it was documented and reported that Duke broke into his commanding officer's office to read files, resorted to fisticuffs in the House, said that liberal members of Congress should be shot, and made obscene gestures to constituents who questioned his positions.

Three years ago I visited his office with a group of senior citizens concerned about the Medicare prescription bill. I documented in this forum the treatment we received. I was told that we should never come near his office again. At the time I wrote that these constituents should have been treated at least as well as defense contractors. His office simply was not accustomed to talking to those who disagreed with him.

The lesson for us is that we must pay closer attention to the representatives we elect. We the voters must exercise our oversight of Congress, just as Congress must exercise oversight of the president's policies.

After all the attention of the Busby-Bilbray race, we must now draw our attention to what our representative is doing. We must hold Mr. Bilbray accountable for both his attitude and his actions.

Is Mr. Bilbray open to the ideas of nearly half of the voters who voted against him, as well as the majority who elected him? Is there a sincerely welcoming attitude in his office?

Do you agree with Mr. Bilbray's votes on minimum wage, offshore oil drilling, congressional pay raises, stem cell research and the resolution on the escalation of the war? Either way you need to let him know.

A representative can become corrupt and use his office for personal gain, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. More importantly, does he welcome your opinion and speak up for you in Washington on the issues that you most care about?

We need to call and write our representative so that he never forgets that he is accountable to us. We need to write letters to the local media, too. We need to hold their feet to the fire, lest we later find out that wrongdoing or poor representation was "hiding in plain sight."

San Diego resident John Lee Evans is a psychologist in Poway and La Jolla, and heads up My Vote Counts, a forum dedicated to fair elections and greater citizen participation.

Cunningham's corruption began earlier than first realized

February 17, 2007 NORTH COUNTY ---- A review of this week's federal indictment of a Poway man shows that the alleged web of corruption surrounding imprisoned former Congressman Randy Cunningham apparently began nearly five years earlier than was previously known.

Poway Defense contractor Brent Wilkes, right, walks with attorney Mark Geragos to the San Diego federal courthouse in downtown on Wednesday.

Cunningham pleaded guilty in late 2005 to taking part in a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme that involved bribes in exchange for defense contracts. He is now serving an eight-year, four-month sentence in a federal prison near Tucson, Ariz.

Court documents from his 2005 plea agreement cite the first overt act of corruption of Cunningham as having occurred in May 2000, when Brent Wilkes, the Poway defense contractor referred to as co-conspirator No. 1 in the documents, allegedly gave him two personal checks totaling $100,000. But Tuesday's indictment pegs the start of Wilkes' alleged bribery of the former 50th District representative as "at least as early as September 1996."

Cunningham, a conservative Republican, was first elected to represent portions of North County in Congress in 1990 and served eight consecutive terms until he resigned in late 2005.

While the 2005 court documents do not identify Wilkes by name, his former attorney, Michael Lipman, told reporters that Wilkes was the person referred to as co-conspirator No. 1.

Tuesday's indictment of Wilkes accuses the Poway resident of 25 charges that include 17 counts of fraud, three counts of laundering more than $12 million, one count of bribery, one count of bribing a public official and three counts of unlawful monetary transactions.

On Wednesday, he was arraigned in a San Diego courtroom for the alleged crimes. If convicted on all counts and was to serve maximum consecutive sentences, Wilkes' time behind bars could add up to more than 400 years.

In a Wednesday posting on the Web site of his attorney, Mark Geragos, Wilkes bitterly contested the accusations, saying that he will be vindicated and that prosecutors are trying to force him "to plead guilty to something I did not do."

Also arraigned Wednesday in the same case was New York banker John T. Michael, who was charged with obstruction of justice and faces five years in prison.

In a related but separate case, former CIA Executive Director Kyle "Dusty" Foggo was also arraigned on seven counts of fraud; one count of conspiracy to commit fraud; and three counts of unlawful monetary transactions. Foggo faces the possibility of nearly 150 years in prison if convicted on all counts and if he were to serve maximum consecutive sentences.

Before the three men were photographed, fingerprinted and released Wednesday, federal Judge Larry Alan Burns established conditions for their release. Wilkes must post a $2 million bond, Foggo $200,000 and Michael, $250,000.

The federal grand jury indictment alleges that Wilkes' first overt acts of corruption began as early as September 1996, when he allegedly paid thousands of dollars in meals for Cunningham at Washington restaurants.

According to the indictment, over the years, Wilkes allegedly went on to ply Cunningham with everything from trips to lavish resorts, rides in private jets, cash and prostitutes.

Alleged bribes and pressure

The 1996 date is significant because, according to Tuesday's indictment, it was also around that same time that Cunningham began pressuring Defense Department personnel to provide funding to Wilkes' company, ADCS Inc.

At the time, Wilkes is alleged to have tried to get the federal government to pay ADCS to scan documents and convert them to a digital format. And Cunningham was beginning to pressure Department of Defense officials to fund such a document scanning program.

The indictment also lists other alleged favors and gifts that continued over the following months and years:

- Early 1997: Wilkes allegedly paid a Washington limousine service to chauffeur Cunningham around the nation's capital.

- July 1997: Wilkes allegedly directed an employee to buy a yellow Sea-Doo Speedster for $11,255 and give it to Cunningham.

- August 1998, Wilkes allegedly told an ADCS employee to buy Cunningham a $1,500 notebook computer.

Parallel to those alleged favors, Cunningham and Wilkes allegedly began putting pressure on government officials to obtain funding for document scanning programs.

- May 1998: Cunningham wrote to the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on National Security, requesting $64 million for document conversion.

- August 1998: Wilkes allegedly threatened a Defense Department program manager with reprisals if he refused to pay ADCS invoices.

- November 1998: Wilkes allegedly threatened a document conversion program manager with "Congressional reprisal if he did not allocate sufficient funding to ADCS projects, and immediately pay all outstanding ADCS invoices (even when it could not be verified that the work had actually been done ... or the goods had actually been purchased,)" the indictment states.

- On the same day: Cunningham allegedly contacted the same program manager ... and attempted to pressure him into paying the ADCS-related invoices, it states in the indictment.

- February 1999: At Cunningham's direction, staff members allegedly contacted the Defense Department program manager and pressured him to allocate additional funds to ADCS.

- March 1999: Wilkes allegedly "attempted to intimidate a (Defense Department) program manager" in Panama where Wilkes' company was doing document scanning for the U.S. government by "telling him that people disappear in Panama all the time and never make it back home," it states in the indictment.

- The next day, after talking to Wilkes, Cunningham allegedly called the same program manager in Panama and urged him to pay all outstanding ADCS invoices, "(even though the work had not been performed and/or verified by the government program manager,)" the indictment states.

It's not just Cunningham, you know

October 21, 2006 Randy, we hardly knew ye. As the months go by it becomes increasingly apparent that there is a lot more to the story of Randy "Duke" Cunningham, the disgraced and imprisoned congressman from the 50th district.

With each development ---- some that fall into the major category and some that smack of the footnote ---- suspicion grows that more doors will be opened, perhaps many more. Duke may turn out to have been a greater crook than "the worst in congressional history," as he is now titled.

Last week we had another chance to peek through the cracks at Cunningham's past behavior toward his own staff. What was reported by a congressional intelligence panel was that over the years this war-hero-turned-bagman bullied his staffers to draw them into his schemes.

Essentially, he wanted their help in steering contracts to defense-contractor pals because they were his benefactors. They were the guys who bribed him. A few cowed staffers could not be permitted to stand in his way, as he saw it. The report says that some of his staff came around, in the sense of making deals easier for Cunningham; it says the staff knew what he was up to.

Hints, rumors and the odd leak had already given glimpses into Cunningham's office manner and the role his staff may have played. Last week's report in this area was therefore not alarming. It was more of a certification.

What interested careful readers as much as the devilish details was what the report characterized as a total lack of cooperation in the probe from the House Appropriations Committee. That was the committee that Cunningham, somehow, persuaded to appropriate the funds necessary to contracting with his bribers. And he did so many times.

Said the principal investigator: "We have also requested that the (committee) permit us to speak with some current and former staff, but we have not received a response to this request."

He also was not permitted to interview Cunningham.

This is alarming. Here is a Congress caught up in assorted scandals ---- think DeLay, Foley, Ney, with perhaps more to come (not before elections) ---- that seems bent on ignoring investigations into its worst. It seems unwilling to, or perhaps constitutionally incapable of, laying bare those parts of a system that have rotted before its eyes.

Cunningham himself, of course, takes the cake. First he denied everything and swore he'd be vindicated. The feds quietly explained that they had the goods on him, so he changed his mind, lost 60 pounds and tearfully announced he was guilty.

He went to prison. There he suffers, he says, but gathered himself in early October, took pen in hand and wrote to the reporter from Copley News Service, Marcus Stern, who uncovered the scandal that broke in the Union Tribune.

He said he was angry and bitter toward those he blamed for bringing about his downfall. He insisted he had done nothing wrong, and that all actions he took were good for the country.

The Union-Tribune reported: "He warned that the 'truth will come out and you will find out how liablest [libelous] you have & will be.' " This was aimed at the newspaper; the story of his letter was published Oct. 7.

The document was astonishing in that a once-weeping Cunningham sniffling mea culpa now seemed unable or unwilling to accept that he was the bad guy. The bribers made him do it. The press brought him down. It was a very long whine: He seemed to have lost touch altogether.

But if he has, he is not alone ---- or so the populace seems to believe.

On Tuesday of last week, an Opinion Research poll reported that 74 percent of the American people believe that Congress is out of touch, which would square with the Cunningham state.

That's roughly the same percentage that in 1994 responded similarly to a question in a CNN poll. That year was also the last in which a minority party took control of Congress: Republicans threw the rascals out.

Clueless, then. The voters believe Congress to be clueless.

Key issues in the upcoming election are these, as assessed by the Washington Post: the war in Iraq, national security, the economy, illegal immigration, Bush's leadership, scandals, health care and social issues.

If these are the main issues ---- it seems a reasonable list ---- the Congress as presently assembled would do well to clue itself in, to get in touch.

Polls are hardly the last word, but, if taken seriously, this one by Opinion Research ought to sound the trumpets. Among other things, congressional committees would be wise to cooperate quickly and fully with investigations into wide, wide corruption.

Waiting until after the election may be too late; batches of Congress members may be sent packing in November by a disgusted electorate.

Contact staff writer John Van Doorn at (760) 739-6647 or

Ex-congressman lashes out

In prison letter, he blames contractor for downfall, reporter for his pain

October 07, 2006 WASHINGTON – In a handwritten letter to the reporter who exposed his corruption, former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham portrays life in prison as an agonizing time of regret, anger and bitterness toward those he blames for his downfall.

“I hurt more than anyone could imagine,” Cunningham wrote from federal prison in North Carolina.

In the letter, the former Rancho Santa Fe Republican lashes out at the The San Diego Union-Tribune, which broke the story on June 12, 2005, but aims his sharpest barbs at one of his co-conspirators.

His comments came in a letter to Marcus Stern, the Copley News Service reporter who uncovered the tainted 2003 sale of Cunningham's Del Mar-area home to defense contractor Mitchell Wade. Cunningham applied proceeds of the sale toward purchase of a $2.55 million mansion in Rancho Santa Fe. Wade bought the Del Mar-area home for $1.675 million and sold it eight months later at a $700,000 loss.

Stern had written to Cunningham in prison requesting an interview. “Each time you print it hurts my family and now I have lost them along with everything I have worked for during my 64 years of life,” he wrote. “I am human not an animal to keep whipping.”

In a settlement announced in federal court yesterday, Cunningham's estranged wife, Nancy, agreed to give up any interest in the sale proceeds of the couple's Del Mar-area and Rancho Santa Fe homes and acknowledged that she and her husband owe the U.S. government almost $1.7 million in back taxes, interest and penalties.

Cunningham's four-page letter is marked by occasional spelling and punctuation lapses. In it, Cunningham expresses regret for his actions but stops short of acknowledging any wrongdoing other than accepting “gifts” from Wade.

Wife admits wrongdoing but won't be prosecuted

October 07, 2006 Former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham's wife forfeited her rights to the proceeds from the $2.55 million Rancho Santa Fe house she and her husband bought with the bribes that toppled him from office and sent him to prison.

She agreed to give up $760,000 in equity in the house to pay a portion of the nearly $1.7 million the couple owe in back taxes, interest and penalties.

Although her husband pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion nearly a year ago in one of the worst congressional scandals in history, this is the first time Nancy Cunningham acknowledged breaking the law.

She also plans to divorce her estranged husband.

Pentagon silent on inquiry into Cunningham contracts

It still isn't known if bribery tainted defense projects

04 August, 2006 WASHINGTON – Eight months after former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham confessed to taking massive bribes in exchange for providing at least $230 million in questionable defense and intelligence contracts, the Defense Department inspector general still has not determined whether any of those projects were improper.

This week, the Pentagon announced that it would not renew one contract related to the scandal. But officials have been tight-lipped about the status of other taxpayer-funded work that may have been tainted, including a secret counterintelligence program. In fact, although several other Defense Department public affairs personnel and a congressional press aide have said in the past that an investigation into the Cunningham-linked contracts was being conducted, the inspector general's spokesman said yesterday that “as a matter of policy, we do not confirm or deny the existence of ongoing investigations.”

“If one exists, it would be improper to comment,” Army Lt. Col. Brian Maka said. “Obviously, if one does not exist, there would be nothing to say.”


Cunningham probe could lead to officials in Defense, intelligence

An investigation into the dealings of former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., may implicate Defense Department and other agency officials who awarded contracts or were otherwise involved with funds channeled to corrupt contractors, according to a House inquiry.

The executive summary of an investigation by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence was released Tuesday by ranking member Jane Harman, D-Calif. The summary offers insight into the findings of independent investigator, Special Counsel Michael Stern.

Stern was hired by Harman and committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., to examine the activities of Cunningham, who pleaded guilty last November to accepting at least $2.4 million in bribes from contractors. Mitchell Wade, the former president of government contractor MZM Inc., pleaded guilty in February to bribing Cunningham and corrupting Defense Department officials

The investigation summary said that, to facilitate their illicit activities, the men needed to "secure the cooperation, or at least the noninterference, of many people," including the various Defense officials "responsible for execution of the money, awarding the contracts and preparing the statements of work; and officials of the agencies for which the contracts were to be performed."

"This was a lot of people to persuade, cajole, deceive, pressure, intimidate, bribe or otherwise influence to do what they wanted," Stern wrote in the report.

Despite the bipartisan origins of Stern's investigation, Hoekstra and Harman have battled over the release of the full report, which was completed in May and presented to the full committee shortly thereafter, according to a statement by Harman. In July, a 23-page unclassified version of Stern's original 59-page report was prepared, as well as the executive report that Harman released this week.

Hoekstra condemned that release as "disturbing and beyond the pale," stating that the inquiry hasn't been finalized pending review of an offer by Cunningham to give the committee information. But he also noted that Cunningham had indicated an intention to invoke his Fifth Amendment right to silence if forced to testify under oath.

According to the investigation summary, Cunningham used Intelligence Committee authorizations to channel contracts toward Wade and Brent Wilkes, an alleged co-conspirator and founder of defense contractor ADCS Inc., in exchange for bribes. The investigation found that committee staff "either actively cooperated with or did not resist" Cunningham's actions, and noted that he used his clout as a member of the Defense appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over several of the Intelligence Committee's key priorities to push his own agenda.

The report cited "red flags" associated with Cunningham's pet earmarks, and said committee staff were unable to conduct appropriate oversight over a Cunningham-backed counterintelligence project at an unspecified agency because project staff were reluctant to share negative information with the committee and committee staff were unwilling or unable to follow up on negative agency feedback when it was provided.

The summary indicated that former committee staffer Brant Bassett had relationships with Wilkes, CIA official Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, who is under a separate investigation in the matter, and, to a lesser extent, Cunningham.

It also alluded to dealings between Cunningham and "certain foreign nationals," and a congressional official told the Associated Press that Stern had looked into two trips that Cunningham took to Saudi Arabia in 2004.

The main focus of the investigation, however, was not federal officials' roles, but the possibility of committee staff involvement. Spokesman Jamal Ware could not say how much detail the full report provides on the level of executive branch involvement. "It was not meant to be a federal review," Ware said.

He said Cunningham "made contact with the committee and made an offer to provide input" as long as he was not subpoenaed, and that the matter was under review by committee lawyers. He said he did not know when that matter would be resolved, or when the full investigation report might be released.

According to the summary, investigators requested information from Defense, CIA and the Director of National Intelligence and received listings of contracts linked to Wilkes and Wade, but Defense "has been unwilling to share information to date, due to the pending criminal investigations."

According to, a federal spending database hosted by watchdog group OMB Watch, alleged co-conspirator Wilkes' company received $89.4 million in Defense and General Services Administration contracts between fiscal years 2000 and 2005, the entire time span available. Virtually all of those contracts were awarded in open competitions in which only one bid was received, or without competition, according to the database.

The contract database did not include information for Wade's company, MZM. FedSpending doesn't capture certain classified contracts, and the data is not guaranteed to be up-to-date or to accurately reflect agency contracting actions.

Cunningham adjusting to life at North Carolina prison

Former U.S. Rep. Randy Cunningham continues to adjust to life behind bars at a federal prison in North Carolina where he is said to be "steeling himself" for the years of incarceration he faces, according to his attorney.

"His state of mind is good in the sense that he is a man in prison," Blalack said in a telephone interview. "While that weighs heavy on him, he is adjusting to prison life and has done so reasonably quickly."

Cunningham was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison in March after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court in San Diego to bribery and tax evasion. In the pleadings, he admitted taking more than $2.4 million in bribes and cheating on his taxes.

Washington Babylon

California Republican congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham traded military contracts for $2.4 million in antiques, cash, and other booty. He is now in jail, but his case exposed a world of bribery, booze, and broads that reaches into the Pentagon, the C.I.A., and Congress. Washington is wondering: Who's next?

Staffers believed Cunningham right until the end

Greg Parks was a year out of college when he joined the staff of Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham in 2001, hoping to learn about public policy and maybe, just maybe, run for office himself one day.

Parks adored Cunningham, a former Vietnam fighter pilot. Cunningham, he felt, was truly a nice man, a guy who treated his staff to a round of drinks on the anniversary of the day he became a Navy ace. Parks believed in his boss's honesty until the day Cunningham pleaded guilty after admitting that he accepted $2.4 million in bribes.

Parks, now 27, has moved back to his hometown and works as a policy coordinator for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. He thinks about Cunningham with a mixture of sadness, disappointment and anger – “anger that he would lie to my face.”

More than a dozen people worked for Cunningham when the Rancho Santa Fe Republican pleaded guilty Nov. 28. Almost none of them have spoken publicly about the scandal, either because they have been told by congressional officials not to talk to the media or because they have no interest in reliving that dark chapter of their lives.

A number of former staffers contacted either didn't return phone messages or declined to comment. The only one willing to speak publicly was Parks.

His tenure as a member of Cunningham's staff began with him going to Washington, D.C., with idealistic intentions and ended with him leaving a few years later wondering how many other politicians were on the take.

“It made me think it could be anybody,” Parks said. “If he could have done it, anybody could.”

Another probe in Cunningham case

On Wednesday, the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct announced it had launched an investigation to determine if other congressional members or staffers aided Cunningham in improperly influencing the awarding of government contracts.

However, a watchdog group predicted the committee ultimately will drop the probe, citing an ongoing Justice Department investigation taking precedence over its work.

Investigators with several federal agencies are continuing to examine lawmakers and others who may have aided Cunningham in his criminal activities.

A statement issued by the committee said the panel intends to act forcefully if it uncovers wrongdoing.

"Should we become aware, either through the inquiry we have undertaken or through any other source, of facts supporting a more formal investigation of one or more members, officers or employees, we intend to take all appropriate steps under committee rules, including recommending the establishment of one or more investigative subcommittees."

A spokeswoman for the Washington office of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said she doubts that would happen and contended that the committee statement released by Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Washington, was nothing more than a public relations exercise.

"It's pretty funny considering Cunningham is already sitting in jail," said the group's Naomi Seligman Steiner. "And anyone the committee might look at is already under investigation by the Justice Department."


Prison-bound Cunningham shuttled away in shackles

March 11, 2006 In the Vietnam war, Randy “Duke” Cunningham piloted Navy F-4 Phantom jet fighters to fight the enemy.

While a congressman, he lounged aboard private jets hired by contractors who bribed him for government contracts.

On Thursday, he flew in shackles alongside other criminals on “Con Air,” the nickname for the government airline used to transport prisoners around the country.

Cunningham taken into custody, ordered to repay $1.8 million

March 3, 2006 Former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham was taken into custody Friday after being sentenced to eight years and four months in federal prison and ordered to pay $1.8 million in restitution for accepting bribes from defense contractors.

The judge told Cunningham: “You weren't wet. You weren't cold. You weren't hungry and yet you did these things. “I think what you've done is you've undermined the opportunity that honest politicians have to do a good job. The amount of money involved emasculates prior bribery crimes.”

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, probably did more than anyone to help Cunningham win his seat 16 years ago and to groom him while he was in Congress. To the very end, Hunter is intent on supporting his hunting partner and fellow war veteran.

Hunter declined to voice an opinion on the “bribe menu.” He faulted federal prosecutors, saying they are “putting their case forward in the newspapers, which they're not supposed to do.”

Prosecutors: Greed only motivation

Rep. Cunningham resigns; took $2.4 million in bribes

Sentencing: Set for Feb. 27; he could get 10 years in prison Reaction: Most in district express shock and dismay What's next: Special election will be sometime next year

November 29, 2005 Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Rancho Santa Fe, resigned from Congress yesterday after tearfully confessing to accepting bribes. After entering his guilty plea in a federal court in San Diego, he proclaimed: "In my life, I have known great joy and great sorrow. And now I know great shame."

"This was a crime of unprecedented magnitude and extraordinary audacity," U.S. Attorney Carol Lam said after the haggard-looking Vietnam war fighter ace pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion charges in San Diego federal court.

While prosecutors had confirmed for several months they were investigating Cunningham's dealings with contractors, the scope of the corruption revealed yesterday was staggering.

Lam described a five-year conspiracy that included bribes in the form of cash, mortgage payments, antiques, yachts, a Rolls-Royce, a college graduation party for Cunningham's daughter and two antique French commodes worth $7,200.

"Duke" Cunningham is a Congressman we can be proud of.

He received his Bachelor of Science and Masters Degrees from the University of Missouri. He then became a successful swim coach, having coached 36 All Americans and 2 Olympic gold and silver Medalist. He also holds a Masters in Business Administration.

"Duke" fought for his country as a Naval Aviator during and after the Vietnam War. He served until his retirement from the U.S. Navy as a Commander in 1987. One of the most highly decorated pilots in the Vietnam War, he completed two combat cruises with Fighter Squadron 96 aboard the USS America (CV 66) and the USS Constellation (CV 64). He flew a total of 300 combat missions over North Vietnam and Laos.

On January 19, 1972 he and his back-seater, Bill Driscoll, engaged three MIG-17s north of Quang Lang Airfield and shot down the lead aircraft. On May 8, 1972 he engaged three MIG-17s and destroyed the MIG chasing his wingman while he was being fired upon by the other two aircraft.

On May 10, 1972, in one of the most famous air battles in history, Cunningham was pulling off target after a flak-suppression mission south of Hanoi when his flight was attacked by 22 MIG-17s, MIG-19s and MIG-21s. During this dog fight he shot down three of the 22 MIGs giving him a total of five victories and forever designating him as the first ace in Vietnam, a feat that only one other pilot accomplished during the entire Vietnam War.

One of these kills was a MIG-17 he shot off his executive officer's tail while he was being directly attacked by four MIG-17s, two MIG-19s and four MIG-21s. For this action, "Duke" Cunningham was nominated for the prestigious Congressional Medal of Honor.

After his third victory of the day, he turned to the sanctuary of the Gulf of Tonkin, but was hit by a surface-to-air missile forty miles over enemy territory. Using the skills acquired by training and his valuable "know your equipment" acumen, he nursed his badly damaged F-4 Phantom to the Gulf where he and Bill Driscoll ejected and were rescued out of the water.

"Duke" Cunningham was decorated with the Navy Cross, two Silver Stars, the Purple Heart, 15 Air Medals, the Navy Commendation, a South Vietnamese cross of Gallantry (Star Cluster), Cross of Gallantry Oak Leaf, and the Selective Service Medal.

"Duke" has been married to Dr. Nancy Cunningham for twenty-seven years and has three children: April Dianna, Carrie Melissa, and Randall Todd Cunningham. "Duke's" Radar Intercept Officer (back-seater),William "Willy" "Irish" Driscoll is the Godfather to his oldest daughter, April Dianna Cunningham.

"Duke" wrote the popular book FOX TWO in 1984 about his fighter pilot experiences. He was an instructor at the Navy Fighter Weapons School "TOP GUN" at Naval Air Station Miramar in San Diego. Many of his real life experiences as a navy pilot were depicted in the movie "TOP GUN". He served as the Commanding Officer of the elite Navy Aggressor Squadron that flew Russian tactics and formations to train U.S. Fighter Pilots at NAS Miramar and around the world.

After retiring from the Navy, he accepted the position as Dean of the School of Aviation at National University in San Diego. Congressman Cunningham was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1990 and has returned to his office with strong support from his San Diego County constituents every two years since then. In Congress he serves as an influential member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee and on the Subcommittee on National Security. He also serves on the Select Committee on Intelligence, and on the Labor, Health and Human Services Committee.

"Duke" has been recognized by a large number of civic organizations for his many contributions to the community and society as a whole. His work for strong, community-based education has led to his recognition as the Education Impact Aid Man of the Year and Library Man of the Year, among other awards. Groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, The National Federation of Independent Business, and The National Taxpayer Union have recognized his commitment to job growth, tax relief and a strong economy. "Duke's" work to keep our neighborhoods safe has led to endorsements by the Law Enforcement Alliance of America, the National Association of Police Organizations, the Deputy Sheriff's Association of San Diego County, and several other law enforcement groups.

Our congressman works for drug-free schools, quality education for our children, a strong and efficient national defense, and a smaller, more efficient government that works with us rather than against us.

Randy "Duke" Cunningham is indeed, a Congressman we can be proud of. He cares about the future of our community and our country.

Disgraced lawmaker's wife intensely private, protective of her family

Nancy Cunningham stood by her husband, Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, in July when he declined to seek re-election. Two years later, Nancy filed for divorce and a restraining order.
Nancy Cunningham stood by her husband, Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, in July when he declined to seek re-election. Two years later, Nancy filed for divorce and a restraining order.

When Nancy Jones married Randy “Duke” Cunningham in 1974, she was a smart, good-looking kindergarten teacher barely out of school; he was a Navy flying ace whose heroics had earned him fame and admiration.

It was a second chance for both.

“He is a very aggressive spontaneously assaultive person,” she wrote in a court declaration, “and I fear for my immediate physical safety and well being.”

But the couple reconciled, and the union survived for 32 years despite marital hardships: his son's drug addiction, prostate cancer and a cross-country relationship. The couple also prospered individually, Nancy as a school principal and administrator, and Duke as a congressman elected eight times.

Just last fall, longtime friend Charles Nesby said the couple were as affectionate as “two teenagers together.”

That wasn't long before Cunningham, a Republican representing the 50th District, admitted taking $2.4 million in bribes, trading his influence for cash, antiques and mortgage payments. He admitted he hadn't declared the income on the couple's tax returns and resigned.

Since then, Nancy Cunningham has been fighting legal battles of her own. She's suing to keep the government from taking her half of the couple's real estate profits as it recovers the bribe money. Federal prosecutors haven't ruled her out as a target of their investigation. Her attorneys say she didn't know he was taking bribes.

The couple live apart.


Hunter, Duncan Lee

Top Gun Enterprises Inc.

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