NORFOLK, Va. WAVY) — Former Virginia Del. Ron Villanueva was back in federal court Thursday for an arraignment.
Villanueva faces four counts including conspiracy to defraud the federal government, falsifying records and helping others file false documents. A 22-page federal indictment accused Villanueva of defrauding the Small Business Administration.
Federal prosecutors allege two businesses he’s associated with were awarded government contracts for which they may not have been eligible.
Villanueva had not yet showed up in federal court, but his supporters were there.
“Friendship runs deep. No matter what,” said one man walking into the courthouse when asked why he was there.
“No matter what” as Villanueva faces four federal charges and he showed up planning to plead not guilty.
10 On Your Side was the only news station outside the courthouse when he showed up, and we asked him what does he want to say about pleading not guilty. “Well, I just want to say God bless everyone, and I’m pleading not guilty.”
The former member of the House of Delegates pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States, one count falsification of records and two counts aiding with false written statements. He wouldn’t discuss the charges but he is aware of the support, “I am blessed, and God’s here with me, and he is going to show me the light.”
Federal prosecutors allege Villanueva made “numerous false representations and statements” involving a business he was helping. That he misled the Small Business Administration and that he and others benefited from $80 million in contracts that were fraudulently awarded.
That he received over $1 million from two companies that fraudulently received contracts with Villanueva’s help, according to court documents. Leaving court after the hearing, he was asked if there is anything he wants to say about the charges, “Not at this time, but I say God bless everyone.”
Villanueva supporter Sid Barrera showed up, “I am here to provide moral support for our native son. I think he is being charged unfairly. Quite unfairly because he is a minority and it is about minority business affairs.”
There’s no doubt Ron Villanueva has support, but the real question will be is he able to convince a jury of his peers that he did nothing wrong. The trial date is set for June 4..