This week in Texas, a federal grand jury returned an indictment on Michael Angelo Padron with one conspiracy charge to commit wire fraud and eight counts of wire fraud, along with two co-conspirators. According to the charges, Padron placed a service-disabled veteran, Ruben Villareal (one of the co-conspirators), as frontman at his construction company to acquire Small Business Association contracts reserved for veteran-owned businesses.
“Today’s charges show the division’s commitment to holding individuals accountable when they cheat the government procurement process,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard A. Powers of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “This conspiracy robbed contract opportunities from honest businesses run by those who were injured in the service to our country. With support from our law enforcement partners, the Antitrust Division will continue to prosecute those who cheat the system to gain taxpayer dollars.”
Padron obtained more than $250 million in contracts that were supposed to go to Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB). Padron isn’t a veteran; his company doesn’t qualify as a small business. He recruited Villareal to pose as the company owner on paper.
In a press release from the Department of Justice, Inspector General Hannibal “Mike” Ware of the SBA said, “Scheming to fraudulently obtain federal funds that are meant to provide assistance to the nation’s small businesses is unacceptable. OIG and its law enforcement partners will relentlessly pursue fraudsters and bring them to justice. I want to thank the Antitrust Division and our law enforcement partners for their dedication and pursuit of justice.”
Padron faces five years in prison for the conspiracy charge and twenty years in prison for each of the eight wire fraud charges. The federal district court will determine his sentence in April.