Duke Returns to San Diego

There were serious questions shortly after former Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-CA) was shipped off to prison about whether federal prosecutors had (or should have) secured Cunningham’s ongoing cooperation as a condition of his plea agreement. At one point, the Pentagon’s lead investigator in the case complained publicly about his access to Cunningham, and The New York Times reported that Cunningham was not cooperating.

But it appears that Cunningham is now cooperating, at least to some extent:

Cunningham arrived Sunday night in the custody of federal prison authorities, wore an orange jumpsuit and was placed in a fifth-floor special segregation unit in the downtown federal jail.

Law enforcement sources said Cunningham was brought to San Diego from a prison in Tucson, where he has been serving his sentence of eight years and four months, for follow-up interviews with federal prosecutors.

The prosecutors are preparing for three trials of Cunningham’s alleged co-conspirators: Poway defense contractor Brent Wilkes, former CIA official Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, and New York mortgage broker John Michael.

Cunningham is expected to remain in San Diego until prosecutors are certain they no longer need his help to prepare for the trials, according to federal law enforcement sources who requested anonymity because they are not supposed to speak publicly about ongoing investigations.

His presence should not be interpreted to mean he has cooperated enough to earn a reduction in his sentence, the sources said.

That last line is telling. There may be some tension remaining, but over what and to what extent, remains unclear.

In a related matter, the San Diego Union-Tribune also reports that admitted Cunningham briber Thomas Kontogiannis is also cooperating with the feds in the upcoming trials. His cooperation did not appear to be a condition of his guilty plea either.