Prosecutors: Wilkes Faked Poverty to Get Gov-Funded Lawyers

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February 5, 2008 10:58 a.m.

When it rains, it pours.

Brent Wilkes was convicted in November on all counts for bribing Duke Cunningham. And a probation officer has advised the court that he should get 60 years in prison for it.

But he’s still got another trial to go — one for bribing his longtime buddy Dusty Foggo when he was executive director of the CIA. For that trial, he’s represented by a couple of public defenders, because his very expensive celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos refused to undergo the necessary security clearance and so was tossed off the case. Wilkes, once flush with government contracts, pleaded poverty and so the court assigned him public defenders.

But prosecutors say it was all an act by a man who’s already been convicted once of thieving from taxpayers:

Wilkes got the taxpayer-funded lawyers appointed in August…. He submitted a financial affidavit under seal to Burns to show he could not afford his own lawyers.

[Judge Larry] Burns made the appointment provisional, meaning it could be withdrawn if prosecutors came up with information showing Wilkes could fund his own defense.

In the court papers, the prosecutors contend that Wilkes has access to more than $1 million in equity in homes he owns, as well as money from the sale of the office building for his company, ADCS Inc. The government says Wilkes paid mortgages, bills and divorce lawyers before and after he was appointed public defenders.

In other Cunningham case news, one of the final loose ends was tied up yesterday when John Michael, Thomas Kontogiannis’ nephew, finally pleaded guilty to helping launder Wilkes’ bribes to Cunningham.

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