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Calif. Congressman Admits Taking Bribes

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051128/ap_on_go_co/congressman_s_house Calif. Congressman Admits Taking Bribes By ELLIOT SPAGAT, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 1
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 28 1:04 PM
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      Calif. Congressman Admits Taking Bribes

      By ELLIOT SPAGAT, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 1
      minute ago

      SAN DIEGO - Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham pleaded
      guilty Monday to conspiracy and tax charges and
      tearfully resigned from office, admitting he took $2.4
      million in bribes to steer defense contracts to

      Cunningham, 63, entered pleas in U.S. District Court
      to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud
      and wire fraud, and tax evasion for underreporting his
      income in 2004.

      Cunningham answered "yes, Your Honor" when asked by
      U.S. District Judge Larry Burns if he had accepted
      bribes from someone in exchange for his performance of
      official duties.

      Later, at a news conference, he wiped away tears as he
      announced his resignation.

      "I can't undo what I have done but I can atone," he

      Cunningham, an eight-term Republican congressman, had
      already announced in July that he would not seek
      re-election next year.

      House Ethics rules say that any lawmaker convicted of
      a felony no longer should vote or participate in
      committee work. Under Republican caucus rules,
      Cunningham also would have lost his chairmanship of
      the House Intelligence subcommittee on terrorism and
      human intelligence.

      The former Vietnam War flying ace was known on Capitol
      Hill for his interest in defense issues and his
      occasional temperamental outbursts.

      After the hearing, Cunningham was taken away for
      fingerprinting and released on his own recognizance
      until a Feb. 27 sentencing hearing. He could receive
      up to 10 years in prison.

      He also agreed to forfeit to the government his Rancho
      Santa Fe home, more than $1.8 million in cash and
      antiques and rugs.

      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

      "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

      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.

      He drew little notice outside his San Diego-area
      district before the San Diego Union-Tribune reported
      last June that he'd sold the home to Wade.

      Cunningham's pleas came amid a series of GOP scandals.
      Tom DeLay of Texas had to step down as majority leader
      after he was indicted in a campaign finance case; a
      stock sale by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is
      being looked at by regulators; and Vice President Dick
      Cheney's chief of staff was indicted in the
      CIA leak case.


      Associated Press reporter Erica Werner in Washington
      contributed to this report.
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