February 25, 2006 in Nation/World

Nation in brief

The Spokesman-Review

Defense contractor admits bribes

A defense contractor admitted Friday he paid a California congressman more than $1 million in bribes in exchange for millions more in government contracts in a scandal that prosecutors say reached into the Defense Department.

Mitchell Wade pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to conspiring with former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham to bribe the lawmaker with cash, cars and antiques over four years, and to help him evade millions of dollars in tax liability.

The payments helped bring MZM Inc. of Washington, which Wade started in 1993, more than $150 million in government contracts since 2002.

“I take full responsibility for my actions,” Wade told Judge Ricardo Urbina after entering his plea to four corruption charges that carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

Cunningham quit Congress last year after he pleaded guilty to taking bribes from Wade and others.

Salt Lake City

Judge removed over bigamy law

A small-town judge with three wives was ordered removed from the bench Friday by the Utah Supreme Court.

The court unanimously agreed with the findings of the state’s Judicial Conduct Commission, which recommended removal of Judge Walter Steed for violating the state’s bigamy law.

Steed has served for 25 years on the Justice Court in the polygamist community of Hildale in southern Utah, where he ruled on misdemeanor crimes such as drunken driving and domestic violence cases.

The commission last year sought his removal from the bench after a 14-month investigation determined Steed was a polygamist and had violated Utah’s bigamy law.

Las Vegas

Anti-tax champion sentenced

Anti-tax crusader and author Irwin Schiff was sentenced Friday to more than 13 years in federal prison for advising people that no U.S. law requires them to pay income tax.

Schiff, 78, accused the government of trying to suppress the truth, while his lawyer argued he was mentally ill.

Schiff’s earlier boast from the witness stand that he had helped thousands of followers avoid paying $2 billion in taxes was used against him at sentencing.

“Thousands of tax returns, millions and maybe billions of dollars lost,” U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson said as he branded Schiff and his Las Vegas company, Freedom Books, “a flimflam operation” that encouraged others to evade taxes.

Schiff was convicted Oct. 24 of conspiracy, tax evasion and tax fraud.

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