Below, Justin noted the mixed signals coming from Rick Gwin, the Pentagon's top investigator into the Duke Cunningham case, about Duke's level of cooperation. I called legal experts and asked -- if Cunningham isn't talking to investigators, as Gwin claims, why not?
Read More →
If Duke's staying silent, it's because prosecutors have already forfeited their only leverage to get him to talk, the experts said. In fact, they've given him incentive to hush up.
Prosecutors rushed Duke's sentencing -- and now that he's in prison, he has little reason to talk to them, the experts told me. Even worse, if Duke tells them anything that implicates him in crimes they didn't know about, he's in for a new world of hurt for violating his plea agreement.
"If I were Duke Cunningham, frankly, I wouldn't be cooperating," Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor and the Executive Director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told me. "They sentenced him too fast -- once you're sentenced, you're done. There's no more carrot and stick." She went on to explain how an investigation with as wide a scope as the Cunningham investigation typically runs: "Generally, your deal is dependent on cooperating, and your sentencing is put off until your cooperation is complete." Prosecutors should have gotten everything they could from Cunningham long before they sent him off to prison.
Especially telling in this respect is that prosecutors sought the harshest possible sentence for Cunningham - 10 years. In cases where defendants provide a substantial amount of information on other investigation targets, prosecutors typically temper their requested sentence.