Veterans Affairs Official Pleads Guilty to Accepting Gifts in Relation to His Job Duties
SACRAMENTO, CA—Anthony Castaneda, 45, resident of Oakdale, pled guilty today before Judge Morrison C. England Jr. to Receipt of a Gratuity by a Public Official, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, while working as a contracting official at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Castaneda was in a position to influence the award of construction contracts at VA facilities, including the VA hospital at the former Mather Field in Sacramento. In 2010, a construction contractor provided Castaneda with a prepaid vacation package at a theme park worth approximately $2,243.56. Castaneda and his family traveled to the theme park for five days in October 2010. At the time that he accepted that gift, Castaneda was in a position to influence the award of construction contracts by making recommendations about which contractors should be given VA business. Court records also show that Castaneda received a second vacation package from the same contractor, worth approximately $1,439, in 2008.
The contractor in question has been charged separately in federal court in San Jose: United States v. Herrera, case number 5:14-cr-219.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Matthew G. Morris is prosecuting the case.
Castaneda faces a maximum statutory penalty of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. A conviction can also result in Castaneda being debarred from being awarded government procurement contracts in the future for up to five years.