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Ex-defense contractor surrenders to US marshals

POWAY, Calif.  A former defense contractor convicted of bribing former U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham of California surrendered to U.S. marshals after exhausting his appeals options.

Brent Wilkes was convicted in 2007 and sentenced to 12 years in prison for bribery and other charges for lavishing Cunningham with more than $700,000 in cash and gifts in exchange for nearly $90 million in defense work.

Wilkes surrendered on Friday to federal marshals in San Antonio, Texas, to serve his sentence. He had been out on bond for most of the past seven years while he appealed, the U-T San Diego reported Saturday.

Wilkes had been living in Texas near his family since 2012, his federal public defender, Shereen Charlick, said.

"He spent years running from responsibility for his crimes and the jury's resounding verdict against him," Assistant U.S. Attorney Phil Halpern said. "Today, Mr. Wilkes reached the finish line - at the federal prison where he will spend the next decade of his life. On this occasion, justice delayed did not mean justice denied."

Wilkes, 59, is the last of several defendants in the Cunningham corruption case to be locked up. He spent 11 months in prison in 2008 before a court ruled that he could be free while he pursued an appeal.

Earlier this year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to order a new trial.

Cunningham, an eight-term Republican congressman and Navy flying ace, pleaded guilty in 2005 to accepting $2.4 million in bribes from Wilkes and others - including antiques, boats, a used Rolls-Royce and cash to pay the mortgage on his mansion.

Cunningham was sentenced to more than eight years in prison and was released last year. He served nearly all his sentence at a minimum-security federal work camp in Tucson, Arizona, where inmates earn 12 to 40 cents an hour doing landscaping, maintenance work and food preparation.

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