Source AP ©

Jurors to decide upon fate of defense contractor accused of bribing

The jury started to consider the case of a defense contractor accused of bribing former Congressman Duke Cunningham with cash, meals, submachine gun shooting lessons and the services of two prostitutes during a stay at a Hawaiian resort.

Brent Wilkes has pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of conspiracy, bribery, money laundering and fraud.

Lawyers wrapped up closing arguments Wednesday morning. Prosecutor Jason Forge said Wilkes' claims of innocence were preposterous and disputed that there were legitimate explanations for gifts and money given to Cunningham.

Defense attorney Mark Geragos accused prosecutors of twisting the truth and said witnesses had incentives to lie on the stand.

Cunningham is serving an eight-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to accepting $2.4 million (1.66 million EUR) in bribes from Wilkes and others. He was on a witness list but was not called to testify in Wilkes' trial.

Over two days of testimony, Wilkes steadfastly defended his work digitizing Panama Canal blueprints and other paper documents for the Pentagon, contracts prosecutors say he won with Cunningham's assistance.

Prosecutors allege that the congressman was handsomely repaid with more than $700,000 (484,530 EUR) in illicit cash payments, meals, submachine gun shooting lessons and the services of two prostitutes during a stay at a Hawaiian resort.

The three-week trial was interrupted last week by Southern California's wildfires.

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