Celebrated state delegate Ron Villanueva sentenced to prison
Former Virginia delegate and Virginia Beach councilman Ron Villanueva was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison on Tuesday, July 2 on multiple charges of fraud against the federal government.
Earlier this year, the Filipino American Republican pleaded guilty to a list of charges including “falsifying records and helping others file false documents,” according to local Virginia news outlet WAVY News.
“You have done good things, but that doesn’t put you above the law,” U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith told Villanueva at Tuesday’s hearing.
According to court documents, Villanueva wrongly helped two Virginia companies— SEK Solutions, which marketed weapons and industrial storage products and Karda Systems, which sold tactical gear — secure special government contracts through a U.S. Small Business Administration program that directs funding to women- and minority-owned companies only.
Previously, Villanueva served as vice president and president of SEK and as a board member for Karda Systems. Court documents note that the scheme took place from May 2005 to December 2014 when Villanueva was a councilmember for the Virginia Beach City Council and then in the House of Delegates.
For years, Villanueva worked with Kahlil Naim of SEK and Samuel Caragan of Karda Systems (Villanueva’s brother-in-law) to file multiple false statements to the SBA.
At his hearing, Villanueva was given 45 days to report to prison to start his 2.5-year sentence, and upon his release will be on probation for three years. Villanueva must also pay more than $524,000, which is the amount he received from the fraudulent contracts.
“I’m telling the judge everyone is entitled to second chances. I’m sorry, and I am thankful for all my support here,” Villanueva, 49, told WAVY News on Tuesday before his hearing. “My story is not done. We are defined by our maker and not defined by our mistakes.”
Villanueva served as a delegate from 2010 to 2018. He was the first Filipino American elected to Virginia state government. In 2017, he was voted out of office and replaced with Kelly Fowler, a Filipina American Democrat. (Klarize Medenilla/AJPress)