It’s been a long time since we heard from Brent “The Enigma” Wilkes. But the Enigma is back, baby!
Last week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted Wilkes a new hearing in his case in San Diego federal court.
Wilkes, you may recall, was the sleazy defense contractor at the center of the Randy “Duke” Cunningham bribery trial. Cunningham steered defense contracts to Wilkes, who used the money to live high on the hog. He was poker buddies with Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, once the No. 3 guy at the CIA.
In 2008, Wilkes was convicted of bribing Cunningham with prostitutes and other goodies and sentenced to 12 years prison. By all rights, he should be there. But Wilkes, the master manipulator, continues to game the system.
The 9th Circuit allowed Wilkes to go free on bond pending his appeal. While Cunningham, Foggo and others do time, Wilkes runs around playing poker at San Diego casinos (where he goes by the nickname “The Enigma”). Meanwhile, his taxpayer-funded attorneys bombard federal prosecutors with reams of paper on his behalf. What a fucking waste.
Now it looks like the legal maneuvering by Team Enigma will drag into a fourth year. Your taxpayer dollars bought Wilkes more time because The Enigma’s lawyers argued successfully that the judge presided over Wilkes jury trial failed to read the minds of the judges 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The trial judge, Larry Burns, declined to grant immunity to one of the government’s witnesses that Wilkes wanted to call for his defense. According to the 9th Circuit, this was a no-no because Burns failed to apply the 9th Circuit’s holding in a separate, unrelated case that was decided after Burns made his ruling. Wow. Just wow.
All of Wilkes other arguments were brushed aside, including one that I found particularly interesting: Why was Cunningham never called to testify. According to prosecutors, “one of the reasons the Government did not call Cunningham at trial was because prosecutors did not trust him to refrain from fabricating testimony that he believed would help the prosecution (and thus enhance his chances for a reduced sentence).”
The Sacramento Bee’s Dale Kalser:
CalPERS today severed its ties with Pacific Corporate Group, a longstanding investment advisor that had close ties to the man accused of bribing CalPERS officials.
The big pension fund said Pacific Corporate Group, based in La Jolla, would no longer manage more than $1 billion worth of money for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. Pacific Corporate Group has been working for CalPERS since 1990.
Pacific Corporate is being replaced by two firms, Aviva Capital LLC and Capital Dynamics.
Earlier this year, Pacific Corporate lost its job advising CalPERS on investments proposed by others. But until today the La Jolla firm was still managing several CalPERS portfolios, including one dedicated to clean-tech.
The pension fund wouldn’t explain its decision to fire Pacific Corporate. But the firm had close ties to Alfred Villalobos, the Nevada businessman accused in a lawsuit of bribing three former CalPERS officials in an effort to steer investments to his clients.
CalPERS is saying goodbye to PCG’s founder, Christopher Bower, but the giant California pension fund is sticking with PCG Corporate Partners, now known as KMCP Advisors, which was headed by Timothy Kelleher and Douglas Meltzer and ran private equity funds for PCG. Kelleher and Meltzer recently sued their boss, Christopher Bower, for withholding more than $2 million in pay:
Free on bond, Brent “The Enigma” Wilkes is spending time at the poker table these days, but his scandalous past is featured in a new attack ad in Missouri’s Senate race.
Wilkes is referred to in the ad by Missouri Democrat Robin Carnahan he “defense contractor convicted of bribery” who provided private jet trips for her GOP opponent, Rep. Roy Blunt, the former House whip.
“One of the examples we touch on in the ad is the example of Brent Wilkes, the California defense contractor and lobbyist,” said Mindy Mazur, campaign manager for Robin Carnahan, in a conference call with journalists Wednesday. “Blunt – while he was there – helped whip the vote in favor of one of his companies.”
Mazur says, “Eight days later, Congressman Blunt received $14,000 from people associated with Brent Wilkes.”
While she says “he spent over 100,000 in legal fees related to the Wilkes case,” Mazur wasn’t sure if he had actually done anything illegal. “I would have to say the more we’ve learned about what congressman blunt’s been up to in washington, the more we’ve asked the same question [of legality].”
Wilkes was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2008 following his conviction on charges of bribery, money laundering and fraud. He was freed while his case is being appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Brent Wilkes should exploit a gap in the market – for poker players’ benefit
Just how good are you at blanking everything out and concentrating fully upon your poker?
The level of concentration necessary to be successful is startling as you need to keep a constant eye on how play progresses and how individuals react to winning as well as to defeat. If you’re having problems away from the table and they begin to prey on your mind, it’s invariably curtains for your game.
Of course, there are short cuts to achieving a level of focus few other pursuits require. Switching on an mp3 player or donning those mirrored lens shades are two of the most popular – and effective, but there’s no substitute for heading to the felt with a clear mind.
So imagine you had been convicted for bribing a government official and received a 12-year prison sentence. That’s bad enough, but assume you’ve been free on bail for more than two years, pending an appeal against your sentence. Seems you would have your plate pretty full eh? And probably not much time to partake of a few hands of poker.
Not Mr Brent Wilkes, a 56 year-old former defence contractor who was convicted of conspiracy, bribery, money laundering and wire fraud in 2007. Mr Wilkes was freed from prison in February 2008 pending an appeal, which finally got under way on Monday.
A “58-year-old retiree” is how Ultimatepoker.com described Brent “the Enigma” Wilkes after he won $10,900 in a March No-Limit Hold-’em poker tournament at Harrah’s Rincon Casino.
Sporting his new chin strap, Wilkes is a self-described “former executive consultant who is now retired and is spending much of his time writing and playing poker,” Ultimatepoker.com tells us.
He’s also a former defense contractor who was convicted of bribing former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham with prostitutes, luxury vacations and other goodies.
Since he bailed out of prison while he appeals his conviction, The Enigma sure has been playing a lot of poker.
He made it to the finals at last year’s Rincon series, coming up just short of victory on each occasion.
Fans of the Randy “Duke” Cunningham scandal will recall that Wilkes was a life-long poker player. According to testimony at his trial, one of the ways Wilkes bribed Cunningham was by letting the old pilot win at poker.
Wilkes and his best friend, former CIA honcho Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, who’s now serving time in prison for fraud, hosted regular poker games at the Watergate Hotel that were the subject of much (mostly unfounded) speculation.