Image: Kyle 'Dusty' Foggo
Denis Poroy  /  AP file
Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, former executive director of the CIA, turns away from cameras as he leaves the Federal Courthouse in 2007, following his arraignment. He was sentenced to more than three years in prison Thursday on charges stemming from the corruption of former U.S. Rep. Randy Cunningham.
updated 2/26/2009 5:58:40 PM ET 2009-02-26T22:58:40

The highest-ranking CIA officer ever convicted of a federal felony was sentenced to more than three years in prison Thursday as part of a bribery and fraud investigation that previously resulted in the conviction of a California congressman.

Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, who as executive director held the CIA's No. 3 rank from 2004 to 2006, had asked the judge to spare him jail time, citing his covert work on behalf of the country over two decades at the CIA, including a supervisory stint in Iraq after the Sept. 11 attacks.

But U.S. District Judge James Cacheris sentenced him to the 37 months prosecutors had sought for a scheme they said revealed Foggo as a crass opportunist who wrapped himself in a cloak of patriotism.

The aftermath of Sept. 11
Prosecutor Jason Forge said Foggo took advantage of the nation's and the CIA's sense of urgency after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"It's no coincidence that Mr. Foggo's fraud took place entirely in the aftermath of Sept. 11," Forge said. "One man's crisis is another man's opportunity, and Mr. Foggo proved himself to be a very capable opportunist."

Foggo plead guilty to a single count of fraud last year as part of a plea bargain in which prosecutors dropped 27 other counts.

But the exact conduct for which Foggo pleaded guilty is still somewhat murky.

Prosecutors say the fraud encompassed a years-long scheme in which Foggo's old friend, contractor Brent Wilkes, showered Foggo with tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts and luxury vacations in exchange for steering multimillion-dollar contracts in Wilkes' direction.

They also say the fraud includes Foggo's efforts to get his mistress hired by the CIA at a six-figure salary for a job for which she was unqualified.

The defense, though, has construed the guilty plea more narrowly. In previous hearings, defense lawyer Mark MacDougall has said the guilty plea boils down to misconduct over a contract for a single pallet of bottled water.

At Thursday's hearing, Foggo, a San Diego native who now lives in Vienna, Virginia, told the judge he was motivated to plead guilty in large part because he wanted to spare the CIA a public trial in which he would have been forced to divulge government secrets.

"With my acceptance of responsibility my secrets will be kept, and with that I am pleased," Foggo said.

Planned to run for Congress
Prosecutors, though, said that in the weeks before the plea bargain Foggo engaged in a tactic known as "graymail," in which he threatened to needlessly delve into classified information to scare the government out of pursuing a public trial.

MacDougall said much of Foggo's work for the CIA remains classified, but it supports the notion of a patriot who made sacrifices and risked his life for his country.

"He was the man who provided critical assistance to those who turned the tide of terrorism back" in the months and years after Sept. 11, MacDougall said.

Wilkes, Foggo's longtime friend, was convicted and sentenced last year to 12 years in prison. Former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham, a California Republican who admitted taking bribes from Wilkes, was sentenced to more than eight years.

In court papers, prosecutors said Foggo, had his crimes gone undiscovered, planned to retire from the CIA and run for Congress in San Diego when Cunningham retired.

CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield declined to comment on Foggo's sentence, except to say that the CIA cooperated fully with prosecutors in their investigation.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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