Former District Attorney to immediately begin 13-year prison sentence

@SergioChapa live tweets from the courtroom

A federal judge has sentenced ex-Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos to 13 years in federal prison.

Villalobos choked on sobs as he stood before the court asking for leniency before U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen.

The former district attorney refused to address the charges because he stated he will seek an appeal.

But Villalobos said a prison sentence would deeply hurt his family.

The former district attorney said his wife has already filing for divorce and that his 12-year-old daughter is an honor student and plays the piano but is battling depression.

"I'm not the monster they paint me to be," Villalobos told Judge Hanen.

Defense attorneys stressed that Villalobos is not a monster and was not involved by himself saying that former 404th State District Judge Abel Limas was the real leader.

But, prosecutors stated Armando Villalobos was a manager in the Cameron County "cash for favors" scheme, not a minor participant.

Judge Hanen acknowledged Villalobos has done many good things for the community but added that "justice cannot be for sale" and that his decision must "promote respect for the law."

But Hermila Garcia reminded Judge Hanen that Amit Livingston killed her daughter Hermila Hernandez while Villalobos and others in the scheme let Livingston flee to India while they divided up his $500,000 bond.

Garcia testified that the asked Villalobos about his decision but he ran them out of office with them leaving crying, humiliated and wondering what they did wrong.

"He not only laughed at us but also at all those people who voted for him," Garcia told Hanen in court while reading an open letter in Spanish to the court.

In the end, Judge Hanen sentenced Villalobos to 13 years in federal prison but also ordered him to pay $139,000 dollars in restitution to the Cameron County District Attorney's Office and another $200,000 to the children of Hermila Hernandez.

According Judge Hanen's sentence, Villalobos must also pay $30,000 dollars in fines as well as serve three years probation and 150 hours of community service upon his release from prison.

Defense attorney asked that Villalobos be allowed to jailed in a federal prison in Texas to allow his family to visit him.

Villalobos has already paid a fee to start the appeals but Judge Hanen ordered Villalobos to be taken into custody immediately after the hearing at the request of prosecutors.

Originally charged back in May 2012, Villalobos was the last of 12 people named as suspects named in the "cash for court favors" scandal to face justice.

Last year, Villalobos was convicted on seven counts including charges of racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, and aiding and abetting extortion back in May 2013.

Letter To Judge Hanen by Hermila Garcia

(Translated from Spanish)

Thank you Mr. Judge Hanen for giving me this opportunity to express how the conduct of Mr. Armando Villalobos has affected me.

These have been very difficult times trying to deal with the fact that my daughter is no longer here and that her killer has not fulfilled his sentence due to Mr. Villalobos.

It has been a constant fight demanding justice for my daughter.

At the beginning, we had comfort when Mr. Villalobos told us that he as district attorney would bring us justice because he was the state, the law and the defender of my murdered daughter.

But the procedures of his actions were the opposite.

As we all know, he did what a thief did. He robbed justice to sell freedom to a convicted and self-confessed killer.

And when we went to his office to show our discomfort with his bad action and to ask him for an explanation for his actions, it was with arrogance and abusiveness that he ran us out of his office telling us, "Get out of my office where you came in."

We left crying, humiliated, depressed, impotent and disoriented. We were asking ourselves, "What did we do wrong?"

And there was is no justice for my daughter, no. It was not us. For the unchecked ambition for money Villalobos mocked the law and let a murderer go free.

And this caused us to not have closure to have not peace.

It's not fair that people without scruples or shame are before the Constitution invalidating the laws that all the citizens of the United States have a right to.

He not only laughed at us but also at all those people who voted for him.

Mr. Judge Hanen, we beg you please that at your sentencing decision, to take into account his position as district attorney to defend victims of crime not taking advantage of a murderer to enrich his own pockets.

Our family and friends are affected. We have pain and sadness and we also feel indignation.

Thank you to the federal government for taking this case into its hands.