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Cunningham sentenced to 8 years in prison

SAN DIEGO, March 3 (UPI) -- Former U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., was sentenced Friday to 8 years and 4 months in prison after pleading guilty to bribery charges.

Cunningham, 64, pleaded guilty Nov. 28 to tax evasion and conspiracy to commit bribery charges. He resigned from his seat in Congress the same day, a seat he had held since 1991.

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Defense attorneys said, considering Cunningham's age and health, a 6-year sentence was appropriate, the San Diego Union Tribune reported. Prosecutors sought the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Larry Alan Burns settled on a term nearly in the middle of those requests.

The newspaper said Burns handed down 60-month and 40-month sentences to run consecutively and ordered Cunningham to make restitution of $1.8 million.

Media reports that Cunningham was paid $1.675 million for a house by a defense contractor, who then sold the structure at a $700,000 loss, set off a federal investigation. Prosecutors said two contractors paid Cunningham some $2.4 million in bribes.

One of the contractors, Mitchell Wade, said last week in federal court that he moved $1 million in bribes to Cunningham, the newspaper said.

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