updated 6/15/2007 7:34:02 PM ET 2007-06-15T23:34:02

A New York financier who helped Randy "Duke" Cunningham with six-figure land deals pleaded guilty in the bribery scandal surrounding the disgraced former congressman.

Thomas Kontogiannis admitted to a single count of engaging in an unlawful monetary transaction in a February plea agreement that was filed under seal in San Diego federal court and unsealed Wednesday.

According to the plea, Kontogiannis used $512,538 to help Cunningham buy a $2.5 million mansion in exclusive Rancho Santa Fe in 2004. According to the court documents, the money eventually was paid back to Kontogiannis by Brent Wilkes, a defense contractor also charged in the scandal.

Kontogiannis also admitted giving Cunningham a $200,000 down payment for a condominium in Arlington, Va., and buying a 65-foot yacht from the congressman "to maintain his relationship with Cunningham, a powerful public official who could assist defendant in various ways," according to the plea.

In 2002, Kontogiannis pleaded guilty in New York to fraud charges stemming from an unrelated bribery and kickback scheme involving computer contracts for the New York City school district. Cunningham had written to prosecutors in 2000 on Kontogiannis' behalf during that investigation.

Kontogiannis faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines at sentencing, scheduled for Nov. 26. He remains free on $1.5 million bond. His attorney, Gregory O'Connell, declined to comment on the plea.

Cunningham pleaded guilty in November 2005 to taking $2.4 million in bribes from Wilkes and other defense contractors in exchange for millions of dollars in government contracts. The former Republican lawmaker from San Diego is in federal prison serving a sentence of more than eight years.

Wilkes has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, bribery, money laundering and unlawful monetary transactions to Cunningham in return for government contracts.

Kontogiannis' nephew, John T. Michael, of Long Island, also has pleaded not guilty to charges of obstructing justice, money laundering and unlawful monetary transactions. Authorities allege that a fraudulent transaction Kontogiannis arranged through Michael's lending company helped Cunningham buy the mansion.

Wilkes and Michael are facing a September trial.

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