Former No. 3 at CIA pleads guilty to corruption charge

By SHAUN WATERMAN, UPI Homeland and National Security Editor  |  Sept. 30, 2008 at 10:51 AM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- The former No. 3 official at the CIA pleaded guilty to corruption in federal court in Virginia Monday, admitting he had steered agency contracts to a friend, concealed their relationship and accepted tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts from him.

As CIA executive director, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo pushed contracts the way of his lifelong friend Brent Wilkes, including a proposal to use commercial cover for CIA air operations that would have been worth more than $100 million. Though that deal was never signed, Wilkes' companies did -- with Foggo's help -- get a contract to provide bottled water to CIA staff overseas, charging 60 percent more than a competitor would have, according to court documents. Wilkes also was paid by other firms that got contracts from Foggo, the documents show.

Foggo admitted he had concealed his relationship with Wilkes -- who is described in the plea agreement as his "best friend" -- by "adopting false cover stories regarding their relationship and using 'straw men' and shell companies to conceal Wilkes's interest in CIA contracts," according to a statement from Eastern District of Virginia U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg.

In return, Wilkes spent tens of thousands of dollars on luxury vacations and meals for Foggo, and promised him a senior, highly paid job at his company when he left the CIA, according to court documents. The vacations included a $32,000 week at the Sullivan Estate in Haleiwa, Hawaii, and a $50,000 golf outing in Scotland.

The charging documents offer a tantalizing, if incomplete, glimpse of the way Foggo, a flamboyant CIA veteran with a colorful reputation, did business -- one e-mail cited in the indictment is titled "Scotland and Cigars" and states, in part: "I'll work the water thing with (A.J.) -- but you sending a follow-up e-mail is a good idea, I want to insure (sic) that B-connection is not forgotten. ... Group W (one of Wilkes's companies) is in this deal."

A.J. is identified only as a foreign national, for whom Foggo also allegedly sought to get a visa under false pretenses.

Foggo was appointed to the powerful executive director's post in November 2004 by recently confirmed CIA Director Porter Goss, who he had got to know while working at the CIA station in Frankfurt. By that time, court documents state, he had already been promised a job by Wilkes and was funneling deals his way.

In December 2003, at a party at Wilkes's company office, the contractor actually introduced Foggo to staff as a future employee, according to the documents.

Foggo quit his job at the agency in May 2006, a few days after Goss's sudden departure. He originally was indicted, along with Wilkes, in February last year in Southern California.

Wilkes, a wealthy entrepreneur and GOP fundraiser who parlayed corrupt payments to Capitol Hill contacts into a hundred-million-dollar defense and intelligence contracting business, was himself convicted in November on 13 corruption counts, including the bribery of Rep. Randall "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif.

With Wilkes serving a 12-year term, prosecutors moved the venue to Alexandria, Va., where they could bring additional charges against Foggo -- including that he had abused his authority at the CIA to get friends and his mistress hired as employees or contractors at the agency.

None of these charges is covered by Monday's plea agreement, however, and prosecutors have agreed to drop a total of 23 additional counts in exchange for a single guilty plea, saying they will ask for only three years and one month in jail, and will not seek any restitution from Foggo, nor to attach his property. The maximum penalty for the honest services fraud to which Foggo pleaded guilty is 20 years jail and a $250,000 fine.

Sentencing is set for Jan. 8, 2009, before Judge James C. Cacheris in Alexandria.

Neither prosecutors nor defense lawyers could be reached for comment, and CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said only that the agency "at every step … cooperated closely with investigative agencies and the Department of Justice."

When Foggo was first indicted, CIA Director Michael Hayden said allegations about him had "first surfaced within the CIA and were looked into by the Agency's Office of Inspector General." It is unclear when they surfaced, or whether it was as a result of the Cunningham investigation, which began as a result of a newspaper story about the sale of his house.

Intelligence officials authorized to speak only on background told UPI that the agency's conduct showed a willingness to clean its own house and noted the executive director post that Foggo held no longer exists.

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