NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Former Virginia Beach councilman and Virginia Del. Ron Villanueva was sentenced Tuesday to two and a half years in prison for defrauding the federal government.
Our sister station’s Andy Fox reports a judge ordered him to pay $524,000 in restitution.
Villanueva pleaded guilty earlier this year to multiple charges including falsifying records and helping others file false documents, after he initially pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors said Villanueva received $80 million in government contracts for which he may not have been eligible.
Andy Fox spoke with Villanueva before Tuesday hearing. The former delegate said, “I’m telling the judge everyone is entitled to second chances. I’m sorry and I am thankful for all my support here.”
Villanueva has 45 days to self-report either to the federal courthouse or to a prison still to be determined.
The Judge is requesting Villanueva be kept on the East Coast, and in North Carolina or Virginia.
“Contrary to everything I stand for, I hope the public forgives me, and sees redemption and works with me in the future,” Villanueva said on the courthouse steps after the sentencing. “There are some things she said that were right and caused me self-reflection. I could have corrected a lot of these mistakes. These are lessons learned.”
Federal Judge Rebecca Beach Smith interrupted Villanueva’s attorney at one point, reminding him the only point is the former delegate’s companies defrauded the federal government, taking $80 million dollars of minority contracts that should have gone to other deserving firms.
Former Governor Bob McDonnell showed up to support Villanueva. McDonnell had to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to beat his federal prosecutors. “I pray for him. I know he has great faith in God I told him being on his knees and walking through the dark valley of pain and agony is part of the suffering of the human condition.”
Villanueva, who is facing the darkest period of his life, was reflective. “My story is not done. We are defined by our maker and not defined by our mistakes.”