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Posted: 3/3/2006 2:57:48 PM EDT
By SETH HETTENA, Associated Press Writer

Former Rep. R, who collected $2.4 million in homes, yachts, antique furnishings and other bribes on a scale unparalleled in the history of Congress, was sentenced Friday to eight years and four months in prison, the longest term meted out to a congressman in decades.

Cunningham, who resigned from Congress in disgrace last year, was spared the 10-year maximum by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns but was immediately taken into custody. He also was ordered to pay $1.8 million in restitution for back taxes.

Cunningham accepted money and gifts including a Rolls-Royce, a yacht and $40,000 Persian rugs from defense contractors and others in exchange for steering government contracts their way and other favors.

Federal prosecutors sought the maximum and his attorneys asked for mercy, but Cunningham, choking up as he addressed the judge, focused on accepting blame. "Your honor I have ripped my life to shreds due to my actions, my actions that I did to myself," he said.

"I made a very wrong turn. I rationalized decisions I knew were wrong. I did that, sir," Cunningham said.

Much thinner than when he pleaded guilty in November — he said he has gone from 265 pounds to 175 pounds since June — Cunningham had asked to see his 91-year-old mother one last time before going to prison, but was denied.

The judge, while crediting Cunningham for his military service and for taking responsibility, questioned why he felt compelled to betray his constituents and his colleagues for luxuries.

"You weren't wet. You weren't cold. You weren't hungry and yet you did these things," Burns said. "I think what you've done is you've undermined the opportunity that honest politicians have to do a good job."

The staggering details of Cunningham's wrongdoing surpass anything in the history of Congress, Senate and House historians have said. "In the sheer dollar amount, he is the most corrupt," said Deputy House Historian Fred W. Beuttler.

The longest term meted out to congressmen in the past four decades had been eight years, handed to former Rep. James Traficant, D-Ohio, in 2002 for taking payoffs, and to former Rep. Mario Biaggi, D-N.Y., in 1988 for extorting nearly $2 million from a defense contractor.

Prosecutor Phil Halpern told the judge that while Cunningham was living the good life "he was squandering precious tax dollars for, among other things, systems the military didn't ask for, didn't need and frequently didn't use."

Cunningham's attorney Lee Blalack asked for six years for the former Navy "Top Gun" flight instructor and Vietnam War flying ace.

Cunningham, 64 and a congressman for 15 years, rubbed away tears while Blalack addressed the court. He appeared to be crying quietly when Blalack referred to his wartime service.

"There are men in this courtroom who are walking around and breathing because Duke Cunningham put his life at risk," Blalack said. "There is no doubt that all of the good that he did in those many years will be washed away."

The courtroom, which seats about 100, was packed. Among those in the gallery was Rep. Duncan Hunter (news, bio, voting record), R-Calif., chairman of House Armed Services Committee, whose district, like Cunningham's, is in the San Diego area.

Blalack said that given Cunningham's age and history of prostate cancer, "there is a significant likelihood" he would not survive a 10-year sentence, and that he already has suffered greatly.

"This man has been humiliated beyond belief by his own hand. He is estranged from those he loves most and cares most about," Blalack said. "All his worldly possessions are gone. He will carry a crushing tax debt until the day he dies. He will go to jail until he's 70 years old."

Prosecutor Jason A. Forge said Cunningham should not get a break for committing crimes late in life, and doubted his apparent remorse, pointing out that after the allegations emerged he spent months falsely denying them.

"The fact of the matter is Mr. Cunningham went down kicking and screaming. He did not plead guilty until his indictment was imminent," Forge said.

Cunningham pleaded guilty Nov. 28 to tax evasion and a conspiracy involving four others. The plea came amid a series of GOP scandals: Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas had to step down as majority leader after he was indicted in a campaign finance case; a stock sale by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is being looked at by regulators; and Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff was indicted in the CIA leak case.

The case against Cunningham began when authorities started investigating his sale of his Del Mar house to defense contractor Mitchell Wade for $1,675,000, a price inflated by $700,000.

Wade admitted giving Cunningham more than $1 million in gifts, including a yacht, cash, cars, antiques and meals. He pleaded guilty last month to conspiring with Cunningham, among four corruption charges that carry a maximum prison term of 20 years.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:01:04 PM EDT
Damn!
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:01:07 PM EDT
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:02:06 PM EDT
I can't tell you how sad this makes me.

The Duke was one of my true Heros. He was the Real Thing.

I just can't understand how he fell to these depths.

I hope he is truly repentent and that he realizes how much he has disgraced himself.

An Ace. In prison.

How terribly sad.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:04:15 PM EDT
Keep in mind that he continues to get the "perks" of serving his country in Congress. There's a lot more to this story.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:04:22 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Old_Painless:
I can't tell you how sad this makes me.

The Duke was one of my true Heros. He was the Real Thing.

I just can't understand how he fell to these depths.

I hope he is truly repentent and that he realizes how much he has disgraced himself.

An Ace. In prison.

How terribly sad.

I remember PBS and THe Discovery Channel would always run specials on Top Gun and Cunningham's history of splashing Mig's. Just wow..........
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:04:41 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Old_Painless:
I can't tell you how sad this makes me.

The Duke was one of my true Heros. He was the Real Thing.

I just can't understand how he fell to these depths.

I hope he is truly repentent and that he realizes how much he has disgraced himself.

An Ace. In prison.

How terribly sad.



I feel you. I read Duke's book when I was like 12 years old. I have always looked up to and admired him.

Just sickening.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:05:34 PM EDT
Sad as it is that this man was once a hero, justice was served. We need stuff like this to happen more!!!

American politics is supposed to be about serving the people, not serving yourself.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:06:40 PM EDT
I remember reading about his exploits when I was a fighter plane crzed kid.
Sickening that it ends this way. He was an American hero, now he's just another con in the pen.

Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:08:56 PM EDT
He took bribes, he wore a wire.

Yeah, he's definitely gonna be someone's bitch.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:12:36 PM EDT

Originally Posted By SJSAMPLE:
He took bribes, he wore a wire.

Yeah, he's definitely gonna be someone's bitch.



Do you think he'll really go to prison, or to the Barbed Wire Country Club?????
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:12:57 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/3/2006 3:15:04 PM EDT by evilyoda]
He did it to himself.
This is his home in one of the most exclusive and expensive communities in the US.






http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20050818/news_1n18duke.html
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:13:03 PM EDT

Originally Posted By SJSAMPLE:
He took bribes, he wore a wire.

Yeah, he's definitely gonna be someone's bitch.



He will be going to a "Country Club" prison, not a prison like Atlanta Federal.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:13:52 PM EDT

Originally Posted By eodtech2000:

Originally Posted By SJSAMPLE:
He took bribes, he wore a wire.

Yeah, he's definitely gonna be someone's bitch.



He will be going to a "Country Club" prison, not a prison like Atlanta Federal.



He wore a wire and became a rat.
Probably cried at his sentencing, too.

He's gonna go looking for dick.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:14:57 PM EDT
This is a truely sad story.

But on n a upnote, this is the first time I have seen my old friend, Lee Blalack, in the news.

We went though Parris Island and served together during the first Gulf War...

I remember him studying all the time in his hooch at night. Those damn desert mice use to
nest in his books. hahahaha



LB
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:17:18 PM EDT
Some where there is a child molster getting out of jail after only serving 3 years.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:20:43 PM EDT
Yep, and he will probably have a job in the "Country Club" like mowing grass on the golf course


Originally Posted By eodtech2000:

Originally Posted By SJSAMPLE:
He took bribes, he wore a wire.

Yeah, he's definitely gonna be someone's bitch.



He will be going to a "Country Club" prison, not a prison like Atlanta Federal.

Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:22:33 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/3/2006 3:24:06 PM EDT by FLAL1A]
This kind of thing is why I taught my sons to look to the Bible and to history (more recent that the Bible but remote enough that the players are all dead) for heroes.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:24:31 PM EDT
Will probably get out in a year or two, with a great tan, a lower golf handicap, and a $$$$ book deal.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:26:06 PM EDT

Originally Posted By FLAL1A:
This kind of tyhing is why I taught my sons to look to the Bible and to history (more recent that the Bible but remote enough that the players are all dead) for heroes.




That is the truely sad part, this man is a war hero and should be in the history books, now he will have the distinction of being one of the most corrupt congressman ever. A rolls royce as a gift? come on...
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:26:26 PM EDT
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:28:14 PM EDT
The only suitable sentence for tyrant is death, this is an insult.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:29:41 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/3/2006 3:33:20 PM EDT by C-4]
Interesting old article:


Cunningham an NRA funding favorite
Group says his total is 2nd in House over last 10 years

By Gerry Braun
Staff Writer

Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, one of the better marksmen and most consistent votes against gun-control laws in Congress, has received more campaign funds from the National Rifle Association than all but one House member during the past decade, according to a recent study.

Cunningham, R-Escondido, has accepted a total of $44,600 from the group’s political action committee in his five congressional campaigns, according to the analysis by Common Cause, a campaign-finance reform group. Only Rep. Don Young, an Alaska Republican, received more NRA money during that period.

An avid hunter and an NRA member before his selection to Congress, Cunningham has consistently received “A” ratings and strong endorsements from the group, beginning with his successful 1990 race against a gun-control supporter, four-term Democrat Jim Bates. He is a former chairman of both the House Hunting Caucus and the House Sportsmen’s Caucus, and he boasted yesterday that he finished as the overall champion last weekend at the annual “Republican vs. Democrat Shoot-Out” held at a skeet and trap range in Virginia.

Handgun Control Inc., a leading lobby for gun-control measures in Washington, reports that Cunningham failed to support its position on all 11 of the key gun-control votes cast during his tenure in Congress. “He’s terrible on our issue,” said Handgun Control spokesman David Bernstein.

Cunningham said he was at a loss to explain why he ranks so high on the NRA contribution lists, aside from the fact that “I take money from any legal source.”

“They know that I’m very outspoken about Second Amendment rights and have been since I was young,” Cunningham said. “But the same time, I think I support reasonable restrictions.”

For example, Cunningham said, he would support legislation that bans assault weapons if the law could be written in such a way that would not apply to other firearms.

“There’s no reason for anybody owning a fully automatic weapon,”he said. Cunningham voted against the federal assault weapons ban that passed Congress by two votes in May 1994. He was recorded as absent in March 1996 when the law was repealed by the House on a 239-173 vote.

Cunningham also said he would support legislation, reportedly being prepared for introduction later this month by the Clinton administration, that would extend the Brady Bill by making it illegal for those convicted of violent crimes as juveniles to possess guns.


“I heard the president the other day talking about where someone who is 18 shouldn’t even be able to buy a gun. I might go along with that. . . . In many cases, that’s too young,” Cunningham said.

Moreover, Cunningham is at odds with the NRA over legislation he introduced last year that would allow law-enforcement personnel to continue to carry concealed weapons after they retire. The NRA is trying to amend the bill so it applies to a wider class of people, he said. “They say they won’t support my bill unless they hook their rider onto it, which I think would cause the bill to go down,” he said. “I told them no.”

Cunningham said he is unsure that any new legislation could have prevented the high school shootings in Littleton, Colo., last month, aside from vigorous enforcement of laws prohibiting the sale of firearms to teens. He said the solution to youth violence “boils down to . . . a whole bunch of things,” including proper parenting that includes religious training and the installation of values in children.

Copyright © 1999 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.



Link

Yeah, he's a real friend of gun owners.

He's a grown boy and knew what he was doing was wrong.

He made his bed. Let him rot in it.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:29:56 PM EDT
This sucks. Another American Hero brings himself down.

Max
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:34:34 PM EDT
What did Pappy Boyington say?

"just show me a hero and I'll prove he is a bum"

politicans are so crooked that they have to screw their pants on every morning.

I hope they catch more of these thieves and lock them up.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:34:51 PM EDT

Originally Posted By cyclone:
Yep, and he will probably have a job in the "Country Club" like mowing grass on the golf course


Originally Posted By eodtech2000:

Originally Posted By SJSAMPLE:
He took bribes, he wore a wire.

Yeah, he's definitely gonna be someone's bitch.



He will be going to a "Country Club" prison, not a prison like Atlanta Federal.




He will go to a Federal facility like the ones they have at Eglin AFB or Maxwell AFB.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:37:01 PM EDT
Yeah, you are right..............when I worked in law enforcement I knew of some guys who went to Maxwell and said it was like a walk in the park


Originally Posted By eodtech2000:

Originally Posted By cyclone:
Yep, and he will probably have a job in the "Country Club" like mowing grass on the golf course


Originally Posted By eodtech2000:

Originally Posted By SJSAMPLE:
He took bribes, he wore a wire.

Yeah, he's definitely gonna be someone's bitch.



He will be going to a "Country Club" prison, not a prison like Atlanta Federal.




He will go to a Federal facility like the ones they have at Eglin AFB or Maxwell AFB.

Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:37:02 PM EDT
Sounds like a non violent offender, he should be let loose with all the drug dealers to make room in prison for the real criminals: rapists, murderers, wife beaters, etc. Imagine how many murders could have been solved investigating Cunningham while child molesters were out running loose.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:38:22 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/3/2006 3:52:24 PM EDT by warlord]
I'm truly sorry to hear this. The US att. gen wanted the max 10 years, Cunningham wanted 6years, the judge split the difference and gave him 8. This man should've thought more carefully, about what he did. He brought disgrace to the the USofA, to the Congress, and to me, because I personally believed in him. He let me down big time. Well, I guess he's going to have sometime to contemplate the countryside from prison.

BTW: His is probably going to a "club fed" facility, but nevertheless, the man is still incarcerated, ie in prison. Definitely no fun.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:42:06 PM EDT
He deserves to do every day of it. He ran for Congress on the good name of an honorable naval officer and war hero. He turned that legacy into one of the most corrupt public officials that ever held office. At least the most corrupt to ever be exposed.

Now I want to see everyone that bribed him prosecuted as well. Let that be a lesson to anyone who thinks about bribing a Congressman.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:45:37 PM EDT
He was a hero of mine, his flying skill, I still admire, but he did the crime he must do the time.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:47:21 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/3/2006 3:47:39 PM EDT by warlord]

Originally Posted By Sukebe:
He deserves to do every day of it. He ran for Congress on the good name of an honorable naval officer and war hero. He turned that legacy into one of the most corrupt public officials that ever held office. At least the most corrupt to ever be exposed.

Now I want to see everyone that bribed him prosecuted as well. Let that be a lesson to anyone who thinks about bribing a Congressman.


I hear you there, those folks should also be prosecuted to the max.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:48:30 PM EDT
I remember seeing a NOVA special about fighter pilots when I was a kid. They interviewed "The Duke" and played all his gun camera footage. I thought he was the biggest badass on earth. For years I wanted to be a fighter pilot.

I hope he gets cornholed on regular basis.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:51:41 PM EDT
And I believe he has prostrate cancer also, might just die in prison.

Long way to fall for an Ace, but it just serves as a lesson to others.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:59:25 PM EDT
Sad, but he has it coming.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 3:59:28 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/3/2006 4:01:35 PM EDT by 2A373]

Originally Posted By eodtech2000:

Originally Posted By cyclone:
Yep, and he will probably have a job in the "Country Club" like mowing grass on the golf course


Originally Posted By eodtech2000:

Originally Posted By SJSAMPLE:
He took bribes, he wore a wire.

Yeah, he's definitely gonna be someone's bitch.



He will be going to a "Country Club" prison, not a prison like Atlanta Federal.




He will go to a Federal facility like the ones they have at Eglin AFB or Maxwell AFB.



There is also one at Seymour Johnson AFB in NC. When I was stationed there the prisoners did most of the landscaping work and a lot of the janitorial work on base.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 4:03:21 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Old_Painless:
I can't tell you how sad this makes me.

The Duke was one of my true Heros. He was the Real Thing.

I just can't understand how he fell to these depths.

I hope he is truly repentent and that he realizes how much he has disgraced himself.

An Ace. In prison.

How terribly sad.



+1

Very well put.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 4:26:43 PM EDT
Fuck'em... I'm sick and tired of hearing about these privileged, assholes whom just because they're well connected, were in politics, or played $$$ games on Wall St. being treated like they're special cases.

Are the Feds going to seize any of his assets, property and holdings because of his "dealings"? Probably not.

The gov needs to abolish the "Country Club" penal system altogether.

Yes, I appreciate his past service and accomplishments as a fighter pilot, but he violated his oath and betrayed the public trust. He needs to serve some hard time in a very unfriendly place... preferably 48 hrs unguarded in the gang showers with the rest of his fellow cell mates.

Go cry to the judge you fucking pussy... you did the crime, now do the time.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 5:50:05 PM EDT

Originally Posted By eodtech2000:

Originally Posted By cyclone:
Yep, and he will probably have a job in the "Country Club" like mowing grass on the golf course


Originally Posted By eodtech2000:

Originally Posted By SJSAMPLE:
He took bribes, he wore a wire.

Yeah, he's definitely gonna be someone's bitch.



He will be going to a "Country Club" prison, not a prison like Atlanta Federal.




He will go to a Federal facility like the ones they have at Eglin AFB or Maxwell AFB.



I remember the cons doing grounds maintenance at Eglin.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 5:55:50 PM EDT

Originally Posted By SJSAMPLE:

Originally Posted By eodtech2000:

Originally Posted By SJSAMPLE:
He took bribes, he wore a wire.

Yeah, he's definitely gonna be someone's bitch.


He will be going to a "Country Club" prison, not a prison like Atlanta Federal.


He wore a wire and became a rat.
Probably cried at his sentencing, too.

He's gonna go looking for dick.


Link Posted: 3/3/2006 6:02:11 PM EDT
He deserved what he got. He screwed the pooch and deserves this sentence.

I'm pissed that he lost his moral compass and went over to the dark side.

Link Posted: 3/3/2006 6:05:10 PM EDT

Cunningham pleaded guilty Nov. 28 to tax evasion and a conspiracy involving four others. The plea came amid a series of GOP scandals: Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas had to step down as majority leader after he was indicted in a campaign finance case; a stock sale by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is being looked at by regulators; and Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff was indicted in the CIA leak case.


They had to throw those other 3 non-starters in for good measure.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 6:08:29 PM EDT
Sweet justice. Have fun making nice with the other convicts, Duke.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 6:15:46 PM EDT
fuck em
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 6:27:02 PM EDT
Under the rules right now he'll still be getting $47,000 per year of our money for the rest of his life as an ex-congressman. Hanoi John has put forth legislation to have that ended for people that leave their office to go to the clink.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 6:46:10 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Another_Dude:
Under the rules right now he'll still be getting $47,000 per year of our money for the rest of his life as an ex-congressman. Hanoi John has put forth legislation to have that ended for people that leave their office to go to the clink.



Congressmen get $47,000 a year even AFTER they leave office? Regardless of how long they served?

Talk about BS.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 7:06:19 PM EDT
Imagine, he splashed the "Showtime 100" F-4 into the Gulf of Tonkin & just avoided capture. If he had put 8 years in Hanoi & learned some needed humility, it would be saving him some agony today. What a twist of fate.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 7:23:21 PM EDT
Good!
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 7:25:16 PM EDT
$1.8 mil in back taxes and he's still alive? His house didn't get burned down and his family or dog killed? It's a good thing he didn't owe a $200 tax on an machine gun.
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 8:06:27 PM EDT
Is this what happens when you send a good man to Washington?
Link Posted: 3/3/2006 8:18:17 PM EDT
Now they just need to get Ol' Ted "Sausage Tits" Kennedy. Of course I dont have proof, but the man has been a god damned weasel all his fucking life, he's gotta be doing some illegal shit in DC.
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