Republican Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham of San Diego has pleaded guilty to a variety of counts of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud and wire fraud, and tax evasion for underreporting his income in 2004.
In a statement, prosecutors said Cunningham admitted to receiving at least $2.4 million in bribes paid to him by several conspirators through a variety of methods, including checks totaling over $1 million, cash, rugs, antiques, furniture, yacht club fees and vacations.
“He did the worst thing an elected official can do – he enriched himself through his position and violated the trust of those who put him there,” U.S. Attorney Carol Lam said. The statement did not identify the conspirators.
The case began when authorities started investigating whether Cunningham and his wife, Nancy, used the proceeds from the $1,675,000 sale to defense contractor Mitchell Wade to buy the $2.55 million mansion in Rancho Santa Fe. Wade put the Del Mar house back on the market and sold it after nearly a year for $975,000 – a loss of $700,000.
Cunningham has resigned his seat and is awaiting sentencing. He could get up to 10 years in prison.
How bad was he? Check out his allocution:
“Between the year 2000 and June of 2005 in our district, you conspired to accept bribes in exchange for performance of official duties. Did you do that?” [U.S. District Judge Larry A.] Burns asked Cunningham.
“Yes, your honor,” Cunningham replied.
“Did you take both cash payments and payments in kind?”
“Yes, your honor,” the congressman said.
“Did you follow up by trying to influence the Defense Department?”
“Yes, your honor.”