10-year sentence sought for Cunningham

/ Source: The Associated Press

Prosecutors have recommended that disgraced former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham receive a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for his "stunning betrayal of the public trust," according to a sentencing memorandum filed Friday.

"Cunningham used his status as a war hero to get into Congress, and then he used his Congressional office to get rich," prosecutors wrote in the 35-page memorandum. "For the better part of a decade, Cunningham, in effect, erected a 'for sale' sign upon our nation's capital."

Cunningham, 64, resigned from Congress last year after pleading guilty to accepting $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors and others in exchange for defense contracts and other favors. The former "Top Gun" flight instructor and Vietnam War flying ace is scheduled to be sentenced March 3 in U.S. District Court in San Diego.

The sentencing memorandum displayed a "bribe menu" written under the congressional seal on Cunningham's office stationery. One column of figures represented the millions of dollars in contracts that could be "ordered" from Cunningham, according to prosecutors. The right column showed the amount of bribes Cunningham demanded in return.

According to prosecutors, Cunningham offered defense contractor Mitchell Wade $16 million in contracts in exchange for a $140,000 bribe, which came in the form a 42-foot yacht, the Duke-Stir.

Prosecutors also accused the former congressman of fabricating evidence and tampering with witnesses to cover up the extent of his greed.