COURTS: Defense contractor is accused of improper dealings with “Duke” Cunningham. By Allison Hoffman THE ASSOCIATED PRESS SAN DIEGO – Defense contractor Brent Wilkes emphatically denied bribing former U.S. Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham as he took the stand Friday in his trial, which had been suspended while fires ravaged Southern California. “I never had sex with them,” Wilkes said. Neither of the women who testified identified Wilkes in the courtroom. Throughout his testimony, Wilkes blamed shady dealings with Cunningham on his nephew, Joel Combs, and his former colleague, Mitch Wade, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to bribing Cunningham. He said he paid for a $4,000 meal with the congressman in Las Vegas only because Wade stuck him with the check after ordering a $3,800 bottle of wine. Prosecutor Phillip Halpern asked Wilkes whether he had told colleagues to deny wrongdoing about dealings with Cunningham. “I believe you’re referring to the phrase, `Admit nothing, deny everything and make counteraccusations,”‘ Wilkes said. “It’s a CIA saying. It’s a joke.” Wilkes produced checks written to his company by Cunningham’s campaign and political action committees to reimburse the lawmaker’s trips on Wilkes’ private jet but said under cross-examination he did not know whether all of the lawmaker’s trips were reimbursed. Wilkes added that under House rules it was up to Cunningham’s office to pay the money back. Cunningham is serving more than eight years in federal prison after pleading guilty in 2005 to accepting $2.4 million in cash, mortgage payments and other perks from defense contractors. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.Wilkes’ attorney, Mark Geragos, surprised prosecutors by calling Wilkes. The lawyer had not warned them he would be calling his client and had not hinted in earlier hearings that Wilkes would testify in his own defense. “Did you ever bribe him?” Geragos asked Wilkes, who took the stand in a gray suit and spoke in calm, measured tones through about five hours on the stand. Wilkes said no, later reiterating, “I never bribed anyone, I never asked anyone to do anything for any reason other than that they believed in the projects.” He has steadfastly denied prosecutors’ claims that he bribed Cunningham, 65, with luxurious trips, meals and even a rendezvous with prostitutes at a Hawaiian resort in exchange for the lawmaker’s assistance in securing nearly $90 million in federal contracts, mainly for digitizing documents. Geragos has said the transactions between Wilkes and the lawmaker were all legitimate. Wilkes insisted he had never hired prostitutes for himself or the congressman, telling jurors that his nephew, an employee, had hired masseuses on a trip to Hawaii. Wilkes said he had not recognized the two escorts who testified for the government earlier in the trial that they had been paid to join the men in the hot tub of their private bungalow at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel in August 2003. One of the women said she went upstairs and had sex with a man she identified as Cunningham after he fed her grapes while she sat naked in the tub.