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Greetings, fans of the most beautiful Congressional District in the state of California, accursed with one of the nation's worst Congressional Reps, the Republican John Doolittle of CA- 04.  A Defense Department contractor named Brent Wilkes is currently on trial down in San Diego, CA, for bribing another Republican Congressman, Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who has already pled guilty to corruption and is currently serving an 8 year jail term.   Rep. Doolittle, under investigation, not yet indicted, has also given Defense Dept. earmarks to Brent Wilkes.

This is part 2 and will cover the trial testimony.  For part one, the background story on what and how the Brent Wilkes bribery trial interconnects with the corruption problems of the Republican Party, Jack Abramoff, and the Rovian Bush White House's US Attorney "Gonzogate" firing scandal, plus our very own Congressman Doolittle, please see my previous Oct 9 story, CA- 04 Trick or Treat, Doolittle's Still Not Off the Hookergate Wilkes Trial here:

More below, including grapes, hookers, and hot tubs:

The trial began Oct 3, 2007, was delayed by the Southern California wildfires Oct 23, 24, and 25,, and resumed Oct 26. Closing arguments were yesterday, Halloween, Oct 31. The jury is currently deliberating, and the San Diego Union Tribune just reported at 5:15 pm they have gone home for the evening without reaching a verdict today.

Part 2 of The Trial The Bush Administration (and Doolittle) Doesn't Want You to See

Judge: His Honor Larry Alan Burns
District: US District Court for Southern California, San Diego
Defendant: Brent Wilkes, former Defense Contractor, Lobbyist, and Business Associate of the CIA's Dusty Foggo
Attorney for Wilkes the defendant, Mark Geragos
Assist. US Attorney for the Prosecution, Phillip Halpern
Jury: 5 men, 7 women (one woman was replaced by an alternate)
25 charges of bribery, involving "Duke" Cunningham, 11 dropped on money transactions, that leaves 14 (bribery, money laundering, etc),  timespan 1997 to 2004  ADCS is Wilke's Company based in Poway, CA
Plea:  not guilty
Start date Wed Oct 3 2007, went to Jury, Wed Oct 31, 2007 Jury still out Nov 1

Link to the San Diego Union Tribune's page to all stories on Randy "Duke" Cunningham, including Wilkes trial:

Part 2 Trial Timeframe: Tues Oct 9 thru Tues Oct 18, trial delay, wild fires, (Defendant is from Poway and had to evacuate) resume Oct 26 to Oct 31

(ARC note: Sometimes Randy "Duke" Cunningham's name is abreviated by me as "Cunn.".  extra brackets are visual aids for me to proof html )

Oct 10/ SanDiegoUnionTribune, summary of Oct 9 trial testimony:
Defense attorney Mark Geragos' gives opening statement, says Cunningham accepted $2.4 million in bribes but none of it came from Brent Wilkes, the accused.
Geragos says he will call former Congressman Cunningham as a witness, reads a Cunningham letter to reporter where Cunn. blames Mitchell Wade
(Cunningham told the Feds in February while in prison that he accepted bribes from Wilke's per this SDUT story. Cunn. has been in downtown SanDiego jail since July cooperatiing w/ prosecutors.)
Govt. calls 1st witness, Frank Collins, Cunn.'s chief of staff from 1990 to 1997.  Witness Collins testifies he was at a meeting w/ Cunn. in 2000, and that Cunn. was going to sell a boat to Wilkes, and told him it was a bad idea, says he didn't know that before the meetingg Wilkes had given Cunn. 2 checks = total $100,000 for the boat.

Oct 12/Friday  SanDiegoUnionTribune, summary of thursday's Oct 11 testimony:
The prosecution presents testimony from Nancy Lifset, Cunningham's former legislative director, who says that Wilkes and Mitchell Wade got the most of Cunningham's attention

{{{ In an April 2000 memo shown to the jury, Cunningham ranked projects that would benefit ADCS  (Wilkes' company)  as his highest legislative priority, Lifset said. The company's contracts outranked a program for San Diego-based telecom company Qualcomm and a $142 million project for ship depot maintenance, Lifset said.}}}  

Prosecution witness Roy Reed, a former Pentagon program manager,

{{{ testified that Cunningham became upset in 2000 when $4 million he wanted to go to ADCS for converting paper documents to electronic form was blocked by a Pentagon official.}}}

 Cunn. threatened to have that official, Cheryl Roby, fired.

Prosecution witness Lou Kratz, Pentagon Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, testified Cunningham intervened and pressured him numerous times in 1999 and 2000 to give contracts to Wilke's company.

the second story from the Oct 12 San Diego Union Tribune, a summary of Friday's Oct 12 testimony:

Enter prosecution witness Mitchell Wade.  Wade, a former business associate of Wilkes who is cooperating with the Federal government in hopes of a reduced sentence, said on friday Oct 12 both he and Brent Wilkes gave gifts to Cunningham in exchange for favors, but they were just pretending to be friends to get contracts.  Eating meals and drinking thousand dollar wines at upscale restaurants is hard work, but somebody has to do it:

{{{ "We would dread having dinner with (Cunningham) and having to listen to him repeat the same jokes," Wade told jurors in the same courtroom where Cunningham pleaded guilty and was sentenced in 2006 to more than eight years in prison for taking bribes.
Wade pleaded guilty last year to plying Cunningham with more than $1 million in bribes in exchange for $150 million in government contracts. He has not yet been sentenced and is cooperating with prosecutors under the terms of his plea agreement.}}}

Wade described himself as a go between type whom Wilkes paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to, and Wilkes got the contracts.  By 2002, (ARC note, the later byline says 2001) Wade started to bribe Cunningham himself for his very own government. contracts.

{{{His bribery escalated, as he purchased a $140,000 boat for the congressman and later bought Cunningham's Del Mar home at a wildly inflated price. He also paid off a $500,000 mortgage Cunningham had on a new home in Rancho Santa Fe. Wade testified when he wrote checks he would disguise the bribes by writing them to a company Cunningham controlled. He also claimed the bribes as business expenses and wrote them off on his taxes, he said.}}}

Oct 16/ Tuesday, San Diego Union Tribune, trial summary:
Witness Arnold Borromeo, a former controller of Wilke's company ADCS, testifies under a grant of immunity. Borromeo testified about a $100,000 payment Wilkes made to Cunningham in 2000, another payment was a $525,000 wire transfer in 2004 that Wilkes told him to route thru a second Wilkes company to a NY financial firm.  Prosecutors claim the first payment was for a bogus boat purchase and the second payment was to pay off Cunningham's mortgage on a new mansion in Rancho Santa Fe.

Oct 17/ Wednesday, SanDiego Union Tribune, more summary from Tuesday Oct 16
Witness for the prosecution Joel Combs, the nephew of Brent Wilkes, scarcely starts to testify when the trial day ends.  The story, talking about Wednesday's upcoming testimony, says

{{{ The government could rest its case as early as today." }}}

Up to now, it's been a little dry down there in in San Diego. Bribery this, payments that.   Let's... take a dip and go to the HuffPo for the juicy part:

Oct 17, 2007 The Huffington Post.  "Prostitutes Testify in Ca Bribery Trial"

{{{SAN DIEGO — A prostitute whom prosecutors say a defense contractor provided to former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham testified Wednesday (wed oct 17) that the congressman fed her grapes as she sat naked in a hot tub before they headed to a bedroom at a Hawaiian resort.  ...
Donna Rosetta said she was chauffeured to a private villa at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel in Kamelua, Hawaii, in August 2003 by an escort service she worked for. Cunningham and Wilkes invited her and a second woman to undress and slide into a hot tub before Cunningham invited her upstairs, Rosetta said.
...  She and Cunningham went to a bedroom, and he tipped her $50 to $80, she said.

The other woman, Tammy McFadden, testified that Wilkes and Cunningham appeared to be arguing about who would go upstairs with which woman}}}  

Brent Wilkes' nephew, Joel Combs, testifying in exchange for immunity earlier, said he found the escort service in the phone book during the $20,000 Hawaiian trip in August 2003.

And the SDUT's version, including a story title I can't make up but they can:
Oct 18, Thursday,  SanDiegoUnionTribune, "Wilke's nephew discloses company's inner workings"

{{{ Combs was the star witness for prosecutors, giving jurors an inside view of how Wilkes' company operated and of Wilkes' relationship with the disgraced Cunningham.
The government closed its case with testimony from two prostitutes who were hired by Wilkes during a trip to a lavish resort in Hawaii in 2003. They testified they had sex with Wilkes and Cunningham for $300 an hour.  /snip
Combs was the third employee hired by Wilkes for his ADCS company in 1995. Under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Halpern, Combs testified about a years-long cycle of meals, gifts and trips for Cunningham. In return, Wilkes gained Cunningham's unwavering support for ADCS.

“He explained that Cunningham was willing to do anything,” Combs testified }}}  

Oct 18, Thursday.  Well, that didn't last long.  "Following recess, jury could get Wilkes case Wednesday"

{{{The bribery trial of Poway businessman Brent Wilkes recessed until next Tuesday and could be in the hands of the federal jury by Wednesday afternoon.
... Geragos said he would call the rest of his witnesses on Tuesday. (oct 23)

In opening statements last week, Geragos said that if prosecutors did not put Cunningham on the stand, then he would. But the chances of that happening appear to be dimming, given the schedule outlined Thursday.

Judge Larry A. Burns told jurors he expected to hear closing arguments on Wednesday for a total of 3½ hours. Jurors could begin deliberating Wednesday afternoon.}}}  

Defense attorney Geragos called one witness Thur Oct 18, the article doesn't give her name, an executive assistant who formerly worked for Wilkes/ADCS.

Wait a minute, this is Mark Geragos, celebrity attorney for clients like Michael Jackson, Winona Ryder, Gary Condit,  Susan McDougal, and Scott Peterson. Is that all there is? Where are all the exciting defense witnesses?  What happened to Cunningham? Were they on the verge of a plea bargain? Why does the reporter keep saying they are going to go to jury soon?

And then the ferocious autumn Santa Ana Winds picked up, and Southern California, already under a drought, began to burn. Over a half million people were temporarily evacuated from their homes in the San Diego/ Southern Orange County area. In another strange twist to the case, the trial presided over by Judge Burns was delayed because of wildfires, which were still burning furiously on Tuesday, Oct 23, when it was originally set to resume.  Testimony recommenced Friday, Oct 26.

{{{ His trial was the only matter being heard Friday in San Diego's federal courthouse, which has been closed since Monday. Wilkes was among those evacuated in the fires, staying with Geragos at his hotel downtown until he was allowed back home on Thursday.}}}  

TPM muckraker picked up this AP story by Allison Hoffman, which ran very late that evening (published 18:28, that's 6:28 pm on the West Coast)

{{{ Defense contractor Brent Wilkes emphatically denied bribing former U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham Friday as he took the stand in his trial, which had been suspended while wildfires ravaged Southern California.
"Did you ever bribe him?" Geragos asked Wilkes, who took the stand in a gray suit and spoke in calm, measured tones through about five hours on the stand.

"No, I didn't," Wilkes replied. He later reiterated, "I never bribed anyone, I never asked anyone to do anything for any reason other than that they believed in the projects." }}}  

Wilkes also denied he had hired hookers for Cunningham and himself, saying it was his nephew who hired "masseuses" on a trip to Hawaii.  He also denied having sex with the hookers who testified on Wed, Oct 17, who  that they had had sex with Cunningham and Wilkes after a naked soak in a hot tub which included a snack of grapes. (ARC note: insert imaginary gagging icon here).

"I never had sex with them" Wilkes testified.  Wilkes blamed his nephew Joel Combs and his former business associate, Michell Wade, who testified for the prosecution earlier, as the ones who were bribing Cunningham with expensive trips and gifts.

Here's the interesting part for those of us in CA- 04

 {{{ Wilkes also testified that while he most often approached Cunningham, he also had support from other lawmakers including former Appropriations Committee Chair Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, and Rep. John Doolittle, R-Rocklin, who gave up his seat on the appropriations panel after FBI agents raided his home in April. }}} •••  

One of the most fascinating things about Representative John Doolittle, R, CA- 04, whose true local domain is a mystery, is how all the cities in his Congressional District try to palm his origins off on other cities whenever his name comes up in the news. Congratulations, Rocklin, this week he's yours.

Oct 31/ Wednesday. Trial summary and other related developments:
Defendant Wilkes continues his defense testimony. Closing arguments. Trial to jury deliberation. Prosecution witness Mitchell Wade socked with a one million dollar FEC fine.

Whoa, say what again about witness Wade?

From the AP,
"Jury deliberates on contractor accused of bribing now imprisoned congressman"  story by Allison Hoffman

{{{ Lawyers wrapped up closing arguments Wednesday morning. Prosecutor Jason Forge said Wilkes' claims of innocence were preposterous and disputed that there were legitimate explanations for gifts and money given to Cunningham.
Defense attorney Mark Geragos accused prosecutors of twisting the truth and said witnesses had incentives to lie on the stand. }}}  

{{{ Also on Wednesday, a defense contractor who testified for the government in Wilkes' trial was fined $1 million by the Federal Election Commission – the second-largest campaign finance penalty in the agency's history. Mitchell Wade, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to paying Cunningham more than $1 million in bribes, and his former firm, MZM Inc., acknowledged violating campaign finance laws by funneling $78,000 in corporate contributions to GOP House members Virgil Goode of Virginia and Katherine Harris of Florida. }}}

Well, that's her version for the AP.  Here's the SDUT's version by Greg Moran, and it's more interesting.
Oct 31, 2007  "Wilkes Case May Be Ready for the Jury"

{{{ While Cunningham was listed as a potential witness by the government,  he did not testify.  Defense attorney Mark Geragos told jurors at the start of the trial that he would put Cunningham on the stand if the government did not call him, and that the ex-congressman would say he was never bribed by Wilkes.

The conclusion of the trial was highlighted by Wilkes, in his second day on the witness stand, verbally fencing under cross-examination with Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Halpern over important dates and transactions in the case. Wilkes deflected many of Halpern's attacks and challenged him on almost every point. Wilkes stated, as he did Friday when he first took the stand, that he never bribed Cunningham. He also said the congressman was not as important as others to Wilkes' efforts to gain appropriations for programs that his company, ADCS Inc., could win contracts for.

“He was not that senior and not the guy we relied on for appropriations,” Wilkes testified. ••• He said prosecutors' depiction of Cunningham's being central to his success was a “fabrication” and that other congressmen he dealt with were more important. •••  }}}  

(ARC note: Originally, Geragos had subpoened a dozen members of Congress to testify in this trial, and apparently was planning to defend his client by claiming said Congressmen were all engaged in a pattern of shaking down Defense Contractors for payments in return for government contracts, as a way of doing business.  The Congressmen en masse thumbed their noses at the subpoenas, claiming Congressional privelege, and they were quashed.  The use of the word "appropriations" would bring to mind the names of the Congressmen who were on the House Appropriations Committee during this time phase. Two Republican Californians immediately come to mind,  Rep. Jerry Lewis, CA- 41   , and Rep. John Doolittle, CA-  04.  We already know that Doolittle had earmarked Defense Department money for Brent Wilkes. We know that Doolittle personally benefitted financially from the relationship with Wilkes, because Wilkes' companies gave campaign money to Doolittle and his wife took a 15% cut as a "fundraiser's fee."  We also know that Doolittle has been under the Dept of Justice investigation for a long time, because he has been hiring legal firms that specialize in white collar criminal defense, and paying them thousands of dollars a month in fees out of campaign donations, (see his amended FEC campaign records for 2006) and was finally forced to admit it this past April 2007 when the FBI raided his house in Oakton, VA.   And we know from a near slip of the tongue  ("as well as, um ..."  pause was all she actually said before catching herself ) that former fired US Attorney Carol Lam made during testimony March 29 in front of the Senate during the Gonzogate scandal, that "others" could have been about to be indicted before she was told she was being terminated.  Former  US Atty Lam did indict Brent Wilkes and Dusty Foggo in one of her last actions on her former job with the US government.  But were there more?  Lewis? Doolittle? Both? Somebody else?
And if you are Brent Wilkes, on trial, and you think that certain Congressmen under investigation are secretly testifying against you to the Federal Government investigators to cover their own involvement, wouldn't you be a little aggravated with them? So you mention them during the trial testimony. As a warning?)

Scrolling down on this link page, we find the government prosecutors questioned Wilkes on why he never returned the $100,000  he paid Cunningham for a boat, in spite of being told by former staff members it was a "bad idea."   Wilkes also had a handy excuse for why he wired a Cunningham associated firm $525,000, claiming that Cunn. told him he could earn 9% interest short term on it, inspite of there being no collaborating paperwork on it.

{{{ Halpern showed how the transaction coincided with Cunningham's getting another defense contractor, Mitchell Wade, to pay Wilkes more than $5 million Wilkes was owed. Wade has pleaded guilty to bribing Cunningham.
Wilkes said he tried to get the money returned but was unsuccessful, and did not know where the money went. }}}

Nov 1/  Thursday trial summary:  The closing argument from defense Attorney Mark Geragos was on Wed Oct 31, and the jury started deliberating that day.
"The Jury still deliberates in the Wilkes bribery trial, Cunningham never took the stand"

{{{ Geragos: “They have not shown you in any way, shape or form that there was any bribery in this case,” Geragos said during his closing argument yesterday morning.  }}}  

Translation: The guy bought a Congressman 2 hookers, 2 boats and paid his half million dollar mortgage just because... well... just because !   Okay, Geragos, that was brilliant. Let's see how the Feds do.

{{{ While Geragos attacked the case against his client and how the government put it together, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Forge forcefully belittled the defense case.

Wilkes testified in his own defense, but Forge compared his testimony to the children's picture book “David Gets in Trouble.” Showing a copy of the book to the jurors, he said the title character's myriad excuses such as “It's not my fault,” “I didn't mean to” and “I forgot” echo Wilkes' testimony.

“This man was the architect of a multimillion-dollar corruption scheme, and he has a defense fit for a 5-year-old,” Forge said. }}}

At last. Somebody gets it.

The jury in the Brent Wilkes bribery of Randy "Duke" Cunningham has gone home for the evening of Thursday, November 1, 2007.  The will resume deliberating tommorrow.  Somewhere in California, a few other Congressmen hope you never read this. They hope you never heard of it.  The local newspapers here in Northern California aren't carrying it.  But now you, the faithful dailykos reader, know.  Feliz Dia de Los Muertos, the day after Halloween.  

Originally posted to AmericanRiverCanyon on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 08:44 PM PDT.

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