North County Times / The Californian - Top Stories - Wilkes' company tax bill mushrooms


The delinquent property tax bill continues to grow for the multimillion-dollar Poway property controlled by Brent Wilkes, one of the alleged co-conspirators alluded to in court documents in the Randy "Duke" Cunningham bribery scandal, San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector Dan McAllister said Wednesday.

Wilkes and two others are being investigated by federal authorities for their connections to Cunningham, who pleaded guilty in late November to tax evasion and taking bribes from the co-conspirators.

As of Dec. 1, a real estate company controlled by Wilkes was in arrears to the tune of $40,000 on the ADCS property tax bill.

McAllister said the tax bill plus penalties has now mushroomed to more than $170,000, after Wilkes failed to pay his latest nearly $120,000 tax bill, which came due Dec. 12.

The penalties will continue to grow at the rate of 1.5 percent per month until the back taxes are paid, McAllister added.

"We cannot foreclose on the property to redeem taxes until five years have passed, (but) interest and penalties will continue to grow in addition to the annual taxes not paid," he said in a Wednesday phone interview.

But it's not as if Wilkes can escape payment on the tax bill, McAllister said.

"We have a very strong collection rate, close to 99 percent," he said.

County property records show that Wilkes is one of the partners in Al Dust Properties, LLC, which owns the headquarters for ADCS Inc., a defense company located in the Parkway Business Center at 13970 Stowe Drive in Poway.

Michael Lipman, an attorney representing Wilkes, did not return phone calls Wednesday seeking comment.

Both ADCS and Al Dust Properties are subsidiaries of Wilkes Corp., founded by Wilkes. His Poway home and ADCS headquarters were raided Aug. 16 as part of a federal investigation of Cunningham, R-Escondido.

The California secretary of state's Web site lists Wilkes as the contact person for Al Dust Properties as of Dec. 18, 2000.

The headquarters building reportedly cost $11 million to build. It was put up for sale in the fall, John Gross of Colliers International, a real estate firm that represents the owner, told the North County Times in late November.

Gross could not be reached Wednesday for comment on this story.

Tax Collector McAllister said that his office had not been contacted by either Wilkes or anyone connected to Al Dust Properties LLC to discuss the company's failure to pay what it owes.

"It's unusual for someone to owe so much and to flounder not paying and not telling us what is going on," McAllister said.

Sources close to the investigation have confirmed that Wilkes is one of three unnamed co-conspirators in the Cunningham plea agreement.

Court documents appear to indicate and sources close to the investigation confirm that the other two co-conspirators are Washington defense contractor Mitchell Wade, whose company received more than $163 million in defense contracts in recent years with Cunningham's help, and New York businessman Thomas Kontogiannis.

In court papers, Cunningham admitted receiving bribes in exchange for steering tens of millions in government business to defense contractors.

ADCS received more than $76 million in government contracts from 2000-04, during Cunningham's service on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, including its defense subcommittee.

Wilkes is a longtime friend and campaign contributor to Cunningham. Wilkes, his wife and an ADCS political action committee donated more than $20,000 in campaign contributions to Cunningham in recent years. Another company controlled by Wilkes also provided a number of trips to Cunningham on a corporate jet the company partially owned.

Those favors were legal under current rules, though the amounts Cunningham reimbursed the company for the trips was significantly less than what he would have paid to fly the same routes on regularly scheduled commercial flights.

Definitely not legal, however, were the $2.4 million in bribes which court records show that Cunningham received from the three co-conspirators. That amount places Cunningham first on the list of sitting members of Congress who have ever taken bribes.

U.S. Attorney's office officials in San Diego have said that their investigation into the co-conspirator's ties to Cunningham continues.

Lipman, Wilkes' attorney, was quoted in USA Today and the Washington Post just after Cunningham's guilty pleas as saying Wilkes was the unidentified "Co-conspirator No. 1" described in the court documents. Lipman has previously been quoted in various news articles as saying that ADCS and Wilkes acted legally and properly.