This ex-Virginia Beach delegate is headed to prison

Ron Villanueva (Southside Daily/Courtesy of 13NewsNow)
Ron Villanueva (Southside Daily/Courtesy of 13NewsNow)

NORFOLK — Ron Villanueva, a former Virginia Beach state delegate, was sentenced Tuesday to serve two-and-a-half years in a federal prison for his role in a conspiracy that resulted in the fraudulent award of more than $80 million in government contracts.

Villanueva, 49, pleaded guilty in March to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, according to court documents.

As part of his sentence Tuesday, Villanueva was ordered to pay $524,533 in restitution, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith dismissed Villanueva’s request for house arrest. She told Villanueva: “You have done good things, but that doesn’t put you above the law.”

Villanueva was indicted Jan. 9 on four felonies, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, falsification of records and aiding with false written statements.

The charges stemmed from Villanueva’s work with SEK Solutions LLC. Federal prosecutors said Villanueva and unnamed co-conspirators “made numerous false, fraudulent, and misleading statements to the Small Business Administration regarding (i) SEK’s eligibility for participation in the 8(a) program,” as well as the company’s relationship with a supplier.

According to court documents, Villanueva began working SEK Solutions, “in or about 2005.”

During part of the conspiracy, Villanueva was a member of the Virginia General Assembly, and in one instance used his House of Delegates letterhead to send a letter to the SBA in support of an application to participate in the 8(a) program, knowing that it contained false and misleading statements about who actually operated the company, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Villanueva represented Virginia Beach in the House of Delegates between 2010 and 2018. He was defeated in November 2017 by political newcomer Kelly Fowler.

The SBA 8(a) is a federal program which provides contracting advantages for companies owned by “socially and economically disadvantaged people or entities,” according to the SBA website. Eligible businesses must be 51 percent owned by one or more women.

Prosecutors said Villanueva “participated in a nine-year conspiracy involving over $80 million in fraudulently obtained government contracts.”

“More specifically, Villanueva conspired with others to help two Virginia Beach companies secure Small Business Administration contracts that had been set aside for minority-owned businesses,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Villanueva, prosecutors said, received more than $1 million from the transaction.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.