[JURIST] Defense contractor Mitchell Wade pleaded guilty [agreement, PDF] in US District Court in Washington, DC on Friday to conspiring to funnel more than $1 million in bribes [criminal information; PDF] to former US Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham [Wikipedia backgrounder]. Wade, the former president of MZM Inc, a Washington firm that does classified intelligence work for the military, admitted that he intended to win federal contracts for his firm. Wade has since severed ties with MZM. In particular, Wade's purchase of Cunningham's Del Mar, California home for $1.67 million and subsequent sale of the property at a $700,000 loss sparked the interests [San Diego Union-Tribune report] of government officials. In addition, a $140,000 42-foot yacht served as a bribe that helped MZM receive an offer of $16 million in federal contracts. Assistant US Attorney Howard R. Sklamberg disclosed that Wade made about $80,000 in illegal campaign contributions [San Diego Union-Tribune report] to two members of Congress because of their potential to help award federal contracts to MZM.
Cunningham pleaded guilty [JURIST report] in November to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion and promptly resigned from office. He admitted to taking $2.4 million in bribes in a case that stemmed from an investigation into Wade's purchase of Cunningham's home and became a wide-ranging probe uncovering payments in cash, yacht-club fees and antiques. The San Diego Union-Tribune has more. Read the US Attorney's press release.