Wilkes Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison for Bribing Cunningham

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So it appears that Brent Wilkes will get only a slightly more severe sentence than Duke Cunningham. Wilkes, convicted last year on all counts, was reportedly sentenced to 12 years in prison today — prosecutors had asked for as much as 25 years and no fewer than 15. The probation officials had recommended as much as 60.

But Judge Larry Burns, for whatever reason, decided on 12. Cunningham himself was sentenced to a little more than 8 years after pleading guilty. We’ll have more information when it’s available.

Update: The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that “the judge disagreed with prosecutors who contended Wilkes masterminded the scheme.” As the prosecutors had put it in their sentencing recommendation, “There can be little doubt Wilkes was the spider, and Cunningham the fly, in this web of corruption.”

Apparently Judge Burns thought Duke was at least part-spider. He may have been really dumb, but he knew what he was doing.

Remember that Wilkes had contended that he was just playing Cunningham’s game — a system he termed “transactional lobbying.”

Update: It’s worth mentioning that though this sentence is well below what prosecutors requested, it’s the most severe sentence meted out for political corruption in the last several years (see update below). Even Jack Abramoff himself is likely to finally be sentenced to fewer than ten years in prison.

Update: Ask and you shall receive. A TPM Reader writes in to flag a more severe sentence meted out to the former mayor of Lynwood, California — he got about 16 years. There very well might be other examples of less widely known cases with similarly severe sentences. But certainly, when it comes to the flurry of congerssional corruption cases in D.C., Wilkes has received the most severe sentence so far.

Update: More from The San Diego Union-Tribune:

The judge disagreed with prosecutors who contended Wilkes masterminded the scheme, yet said he was troubled by Wilkes’ demeanor in court.

“Mr. Wilkes, you have not indicated any sense of contrition to this day,” he said.

“I’m not big on sending a message, but I do think people will pay attention to what happened here,” Burns said.

Update: More here.