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Former Congressman Cunningham Completes Prison Term For Bribery And Tax Evasion

Aired 6/4/13 on KPBS News.

He will be released from a halfway house in New Orleans. Cunningham pleaded guilty in 2005 to bribery, tax evasion and mail and wire fraud.

Former San Diego Congressman Randy Cunningham completes his 100-month prison term today for taking more than $2 million in bribes from defense contractors in exchange for sending contracts their way.

10 News

Randy Cunningham served 100 months in prison for bribery, tax evasion and mail and wire fraud.

Before Cunningham was sentenced in 2006, his lawyers told a judge their client would never survive a lengthy prison term because of his bouts with cancer, diabetes and depression.

But survive he did.

In fact, Cunningham earned 40 cents an hour cleaning, doing yardwork and serving food behind bars. It was a hard fall for the one-time military fighter pilot who received honors and served in Congress since 1991. From prison, Cunningham acknowledged having regrets but not the kind you'd have expected.

Cunningham said he wished he had never pleaded guilty. In letters he wrote to news outlets, Cunningham said he was pressed to make the plea by defense attorneys. Before he was sentenced though, Cunningham admitted accepting bribes that included cash, vacations, jewelry and furniture, including a Louis Philippe-period commode. Cunningham will be released from a halfway house in New Orleans and he's said he plans to settle in a cabin in Arkansas.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | June 4, 2013 at 11:23 a.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

U.S. Rep. Cunningham's Son Charged With Drug Trafficking‎

On January 17, DEA agents arrested Todd Cunningham, son of U.S. Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-San Diego), for allegedly flying more than ...

Rep.'s Son Charged With Trafficking - Los Angeles Times‎

Jan 26, 1997 – The Drug Enforcement Administration arrested the son of Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-San Diego) earlier this month for allegedly flying

Waaaa! Go easy on my son, Judge! He's not like those drug -selling rappers! he's a good white boy!

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | June 4, 2013 at 11:25 a.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

Cunningham said he wished he had never pleaded guilty.


This case is all too common for Congress, a place steeped in corruption. To Cunningham and his colleagues, this is business as usual, so how could he be guilty if everyone does it? Right?

I'm just glad he'll never set foot in California again. I hope he enjoys his cabin in Arkansas. Perhaps he can put his Louis Philippe-period commode in the outhouse. Although by "cabin", I have a feeling he means a plantation on 100 acres.

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Avatar for user 'RegularChristian'

RegularChristian | June 4, 2013 at 11:53 a.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

When the disgraced ex-congressman was first busted, he cried on camera and plead for forgiveness. It was a very public confession, even contrition. I thought he was sincere. But it looks like once the shock passed and he surrounded himself with his fancy lawyers, he hardened into the cynical attitude that probably led him astray in the first p[lace. Why else recant when he's so obviously guilty?

I hope the public, including the media, remembers the old proverb, "fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." He's not worthy of another chance.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | June 4, 2013 at 12:14 p.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

I have so many comments and questions to ask here, where to begin.

(1) what type of cancer did he have and was he treated in the prison healthcare system?

(2) his lawyers used health issues to make a axe for him to receive no or less prison time. KPBS recently ran a story about a wan dying of breast cancer who the DA refused to release on compassionate grounds. I would like journalists to get a comment from Cunningham on his opinion of this woman's case.

(3) one reason I think it's important to understand his health conditions better is because his lawyers argued he wouldn't survive this sentence. He did survive. We're lawyers exaggerating his health problems to make the argument or is he a very sick man who just got lucky? OR did he spend his own money on good medical care? OR did he actually receive quality care while in prison.

We have become a society of prisons, and the issue of healthcare in prison is a fundamental human rights one. Politicians want to spend infinite amounts of money making new laws, arresting people, and building new prisons but then they don't want to spend the money on basic healthcare needs for prisoners.

My hope is that mr. Cunningham would actually use his experience and become an advocate for prison reform and prison healthcare. I'm not too encouraged, however, based on the comments from him now. It seems like he is still not accepting what he did.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | June 4, 2013 at 1:01 p.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

Why CA, love your second paragraph!

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Avatar for user 'MaoTzu'

MaoTzu | June 4, 2013 at 8:36 p.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

I guess the good thing is, he ain't coming back.

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