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Defense contractor gets 12 years

Wed., Feb. 20, 2008

A defense contractor was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison Tuesday for bribing former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham with cash, trips, the services of prostitutes and other gifts in exchange for nearly $90 million in Pentagon work.

Brent Wilkes was labeled “a predatory wolf (in) self-styled patriot’s clothing” and a “poster boy for war profiteering” by prosecutor Phillip Halpern. U.S. District Judge Larry Burns said he was troubled that Wilkes continued to maintain his innocence.

“You have no sense of contrition,” Burns told Wilkes at the sentencing hearing. “You had this corrupt relationship with the congressman and you profited from it.”

Wilkes, 53, was convicted in November on 13 counts of bribery, conspiracy and wire fraud.

Prosecutors argued during a three-week trial that Wilkes lavished Cunningham with more than $700,000 in perks, including cash, submachine gun shooting lessons and the services of prostitutes.

Santa Monica, Calif.

Nancy Reagan leaves hospital

Former first lady Nancy Reagan was released Tuesday from a hospital, two days after falling at her Bel-Air home.

Reagan, 86, was released from St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica and was “very happy to be back in her home,” her spokeswoman Joanne Drake said in a statement.

Reagan fell Sunday morning and was taken to the hospital, where doctors determined she did not break a hip as feared.

Cottonwood, Minn.

4 students killed when van hits bus

A school bus and several other vehicles crashed in southwestern Minnesota on Tuesday, killing four students and injuring more than a dozen others, authorities said.

The bus was hit by a van around 3:25 p.m. on a highway north of Cottonwood. The bus then hit a pickup and tipped on its side, State Patrol Lt. Mark Peterson said.

The bus was on its regular route, carrying children from kindergarten through 12th grade.


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