Disgraced ex-congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham regrets guilty - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Disgraced ex-congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham regrets guilty plea

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - In his first media interview since going to prison, Randy "Duke" Cunningham said he regrets pleading guilty almost five years ago to conspiracy and tax evasion charges, and that he did so on the advice of his lawyers when he was physically and emotionally weakened.

The former GOP congressman from Rancho Santa Fe is serving eight years and four months in the Federal Corrections Institution in Tucson after admitting to taking $2.4 million in bribes from two defense contractors in exchange for steering government contracts their way.

During the nearly hourlong interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune, he also said his visitors have included former Republican Reps. Duncan Hunter of Alpine and Ron Packard of Carlsbad but his only family member who has come is his son. He said his wife, whom is in the process of divorcing him, and their two daughters do not communicate with him.

The 68-year-old former Navy fighter pilot also told the newspaper he fears the prostate cancer that caused him to drop nearly 100 pounds during the scandal has returned.

Upon his sentencing in 2006, Cunningham told a judge his decision to plea guilty was not made under duress. But to the Union-Tribune this month, he said he was pressured by lawyers who said it would costs millions to fight the charges and he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Those lawyers could not be reached for comment, according to the newspaper.

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