In 2003, influential Washington defense contractor Mitchell Wade and one of his executives, Haig Melkessetian, discussed dealings with a friend, then-congressman Randall “Duke” Cunningham, says U.S. News & World Report. The magazine says that Wade’s “road to riches” will lead to criminal charges soon “against some of the most influential insiders in the nation’s capital.” Melkessetian, now a consultant for a U.S. intelligence agency, is helping federal prosecutors in a massive corruption investigation involving Wade, his former company–MZM, Inc.–and Cunningham. The former eight-term Republican congressman from California pleaded guilty last November to accepting more than $2.4 million in bribes and favors from Wade and others.
Cunningham “earmarked” millions of dollars in defense projects for Wade and others in a manner so brazen federal prosecutors called it “unparalleled” in the long, sordid history of congressional corruption. Cunningham is serving an eight-year prison term, while Wade, 46, has pleaded guilty to paying Cunningham more than $1 million in bribes and is cooperating with prosecutors. Wade’s sentencing has been postponed until next March. He faces a maximum prison term of 135 months. The FBI, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the Defense Security Service are working with prosecutors to put the finishing touches on indictments against several other defense contractors, and senior defense and intelligence officials, who helped Wade with his corrupt activities. “We have been looking at everybody that’s involved,” says a federal law enforcement official. “Anytime you talk about defense contracting, it’s a huge spider web.”