• Veterans Affairs Official BUSTED By Feds For Accepting Vacations From Contractor

    A Department of Veterans Affairs official pled guilty Thursday for accepting vacation packages from a contracting company that was in a position to unduly influence the awarding of construction contracts.

    Back when he was working as a contracting official, 45-year-old Anthony Castaneda had the ability to influence which companies would receive contracts for a number of VA facilities. One of those facilities was the Veterans Affairs Northern California Health Care System at Mather, a fact not lost on contractor Herrera Engineering.

    In 2010, the company decided to send Castaneda a gift: a prepaid vacation to a theme park worth approximately $2,243.56. Castaneda took Herrera up on the offer, taking his family to the park for five days in October 2010.

    He apparently had already received a vacation package from that contractor in 2008 worth $1,439, according to court records.

    Castaneda was busted following investigation from the VA inspector general and the FBI. If he is convicted, he faces a fine of up to $250,000 and up to two years in prison. Additionally, he may be barred from receiving government contracts in the future for up to five years.

    Herrera is also being charged in a separate court case.

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