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Limo firm denies providing prostitutes

WASHINGTON, May 6 (UPI) -- The president of a Washington limousine company, denied he provided prostitutes to former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif.

Federal investigators have been examining the relationship between Shirlington Limousine and Brent R. Wilkes, a San Diego businessman under investigation for bribing Cunningham to get federal contracts.

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Mitchell Wade, a defense contractor who has admitted to bribing Cunningham, told prosecutors that Wilkes used the limousine company to help procure paid escorts for Cunningham, The Washington Post reported.

Shirlington Limousine was awarded two transportation contracts worth $25 million from the Department of Homeland Security in 2004 and 2005 even though the company was not the low bidder.

Officials said the limousine company's president, Christopher Baker, has a criminal record including two felony convictions, but that would not have affected the company's bid. When the Homeland Security Administration contracts with a company, officials said, it does not check the criminal backgrounds of executives or run executives' names against the government's terrorist watch list.

Jerome Foster, who was once a director of Shirlington Limousine, said Baker was naive about business.

"He wasn't an individual I would have thought could have gotten that kind of contract on his own," Foster said.

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