Duke Cunningham convicted of receiving $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors and conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, and tax evasion, the MZM connection. Mitchell Wade the founder of the defense contracting firm MZM purchased Cunningham’s Del Mar home for $1,675,000 then put it back on the market a month later for $975,000. Cunningham lived in Washington on a yacht owned by Wade. In exchange for these kinds of bribes and favors, Cunningham steered contracts to MZM. One of the first in July 2002 was for $140,000 for computers and office furniture for Vice President Cheney which turned out in actuality to be for anthrax screening (for which MZM had zero expertise). Another in September 2002 was for a data storage system for CIFA (see item 158 on CIFA’s domestic spying). $5.4 million of the $6.3 million contract was profit. As it turned out the system was incompatible with CIFA’s and was never installed. As often happens in these kinds of arrangements, Lt. Gen. James C. King who helped set up CIFA went to work at MZM and became its President in June 2005 replacing Wade. By the time that Cunningham pled guilty on November 28, 2005, he had managed to steer $150 million in contracts to MZM, a firm which before Cunningham and Wade hooked up received no important government contracts.
Another player in the Cunningham scandals was Brent Wilkes who founded ADCS a data conversion firm. He too won contracts through Cunningham and according to Wade set up a prostitution ring for the benefit of Cunningham and other legislators at the Watergate and Westin Grand hotels. On November 5, 2007, Wilkes was convicted in federal court on all 13 felony counts he was charged with. These included conspiracy, bribery, money laundering and wire fraud. In addition to paying for flings in Hawaii and Las Vegas for Cunningham, Wilkes was accused of giving Cunningham $100,000. Wilkes said it was to buy Cunningham’s boat although the deal never went through and Wilkes never asked for the money back. Wilkes also passed along $525,000 to help cover a mortgage for a house in Santa Fe for Cunningham. In exchange for these bribes, Wilkes’ company received about $80 million dollars in contracts. The government lost $30-60 million and Wilkes made about $46 million as a result of his deals with Cunningham. On February 19, 2008, US District Court judge Larry Burns went against probation and prosecutorial recommendations and sentenced Wilkes to 12 years in prison. He could have gotten 60.
On December 15, 2008, Mitchell Wade who was a smart enough operator to cooperate early and often with the government was sentenced to 30 months and a $250,000 fine, pretty much of a wrist slap for his participation. In addition to his help with Cunningham, Wade also apparently gave information in the investigations of Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Rep. Allan Mollahan (D-WV.), Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), outgoing Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA), and former Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL).