Villalobos gets 13 years; taken into custody - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Villalobos gets 13 years; taken into custody

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Posted: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 5:00 pm

A federal judge sentenced former Cameron County District Attorney Armando R. Villalobos to 13 years in prison for racketeering.

U.S. District Judge Andrew H. Hanen sentenced Villalobos to 156 months in prison this afternoon. He also ordered the former top prosecutor to make restitution of $339,000, including $200,000 to the children of Amit Livingston's murder victim.

During the sentencing hearing Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Surovic said Villalobos failed in his responsibilities as the chief law enforcement officer.

"Mr. Villalobos was selling people's lives. He was selling justice."

He said for many years, there will be questions about justice, affecting prosecutors and courts everywhere, dragging them through the mud.

"He has done incalculable damage," Surovic told the Judge, noting that Villalobos needs to be sentenced in the upper end of the guidelines.

Defense attorneys pleaded with Hanen to give Villalobos probation and home confinement.

They said 40 letters were submitted on Villalobos' behalf, that he has two children, large and supportive family, and that he is commited and has a bond with his family.

Villalobos cried when he addressed the court.

He said there was so much to say, but because he will appeal his conviction, he can't address everything. He said he tried to do his best.

The mother of murder victim Hermila Hernandez took the stand. Hernandez was killed by fugitive Amit Livingston.

Hermila Garcia thanked Judge Hanen for giving her the opportunity to voice how Villalobos' conduct has impacted the family.

Villalobos was convicted by a jury on May 24, 2013, on a count of racketeering, a second count of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and five counts of extortion.

The jury acquitted Villalobos of two counts of extortion. Judge Hanen acquited him of an additional count.

Villalobos faced up to 20 years in federal prison on each count.

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