SAN DIEGO - Former San Diego Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham was released from a federal prison in Arizona and is now serving the remainder of his sentence in a federal halfway house in New Orleans.
Federal Bureau of Prisons records show the 71-year-old Cunningham in custody at CCM (Community Corrections Management) New Orleans, with a scheduled release date of June 4, 2013. He had served a majority of his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson, Ariz. In a May 2011 interview with 10News reporter Bob Lawrence, Cunningham described prison life as "a struggle."
Cunningham pleaded guilty to tax evasion and conspiracy in 2006, and he was later sentenced to eight years and four months in prison. In addition to pleading guilty to tax evasion and conspiracy, he admitted receiving at least $2.4 million in gifts, cash and trips from defense contractors in exchange for steering government work their way.
"The scale of his corruption… he is absolutely the most corrupt congressman in history," said author Seth Hettena, who included that in the title of his book about Cunningham.
Since being incarcerated, Cunningham has denied accepting bribes and said he regretted his plea.
"I accepted furnishings and carpet which I rationalized as gifts, but I never accepted a bribe from anybody," Cunningham said.
When asked why he signed the plea agreement, Cunningham said he was under duress.
"I hadn't slept. I was taking medications and they [Cunningham's lawyers] said the government will go after my family if I don't sign," he said.
"A lot of these things they say are bribes. I can absolutely prove they were reimbursements for things I had already paid for, and I now have my check register to prove it," Cunningham told 10News.
Cunningham said the IRS seized his assets and he has nothing left.
"I just might end up living in a one-bedroom cabin by a lake to go fishing," he said.
"Is that in California?" asked 10News reporter Bob Lawrence.
"No," Cunningham replied.
Prior to the bribery scandal, Cunningham represented California's 50th Congressional District. He resigned amid his legal woes.
Before going into politics, he flew an F-4 Phantom for the U.S Navy during the Vietnam War.