Defense Contractor Imprisoned for Bribing Congressman
by Jim Kouri, CPP
On Tuesday, a jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts against defense contractor Brent Roger Wilkes, who was accused of bribing former GOP Congressman Randall “Duke” Cunningham, according to documents obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police.
Wilkes was found guilty of conspiracy, bribery, honest services wire fraud, and money laundering. The defendent was ordered to pay $636,116 in forfeiture, and $501,300 in fines and special assessments. The Court ordered Wilkes remanded immediately into custody to begin serving his sentence.
According to Assistant US Attorneys Sanjay Bhandari, Valerie H. Chu, Jason A. Forge and Phillip L.B. Halpern, who prosecuted the case, Wilkes provided more than $700,000 in bribes to Cunningham over nearly a decade. In return, Cunningham illegally directed more than $80 million in defense contract funds to Wilkes’s company, ADCS, Inc., located in Poway, California. Wilkes’s illicit profits totaled tens of millions of dollars.
United States Attorney Karen P. Hewitt said, “The citizens of San Diego and, indeed, the nation at large, are well served by the sentence imposed today. It reflects the egregiousness of the corrupt conduct in which Brent Wilkes engaged and marks one more step in the restoration of the public’s confidence in the integrity of our system of government and those who participate in it. Brent Wilkes has earned every day of the sentence he received.”
Hewitt commended the outstanding work of the agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, who investigated this case.
FBI Special Agent in Charge, Keith Slotter commented, “Public corruption at any level denies the American public of the honest services the public expects and deserves from our representatives. Today's sentencing serves notice that the FBI will continue to root out corruption at all levels to protect the freedoms and services the public deserves.”
“[Tuesday's] sentencing sends a clear message to the American public that those individuals who attempt to buy our elected officials for their own personal financial gain will be fully prosecuted,” said Debra D. King, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation, Los Angeles Field Office.
“IRS Criminal Investigation will aggressively follow the money trail and do our part to combat public corruption,” she said.
“The American taxpayer expects the Department of Defense (DoD) to manage a procurement system that is free of bribery and corruption. The corrupt behavior of our public officials and DoD contractors misappropriates precious dollars in products and services destined for our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines. This investigation demonstrates the most egregious case of bribery and corruption between a sitting U.S. Congressman and a DoD contractor that I have ever witnessed in my career,” said Rick Gwin, Special Agent in Charge, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), Western Field Office.
According to case records, the breakdown of the charges is as follows:
COUNT 1 Conspiracy to commit Bribery, Honest Services Fraud, and Money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, which is punishable by 5 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine.
COUNTS 2-11 Honest Services Wire Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1343 and 1346, which is punishable by 20 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine.
COUNT 13 Bribery of a Public Official in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, which is punishable by 15 years in prison and/or the greater of a $250,000 fine or three times the monetary equivalent of the bribe.
COUNT 14 Money Laundering (“concealment”) in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(a)(1)(A)(I), which is punishable by 20 years in prison and/or the greater of a $500,000 fine or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.