Crime - Sacto 911

VA contracting official pleads guilty to accepting gifts related to job duties

A Department of Veterans Affairs official has pleaded guilty in federal court in Sacramento to accepting gifts in relation to his job duties, which included the award of construction contracts for the Sacramento VA Medical Center.

Anthony Castaneda, 45, of Oakdale, pleaded guilty Thursday before U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. to receipt of a gratuity by a public official, according to a U.S. attorney’s office news release.

Court documents indicate that while working as a contracting official with 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 to a theme park worth approximately $2,243, authorities said. Castaneda and his family traveled to the theme park for five days in October 2010. At the time that he accepted the 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.

Authorities said the contractor in question has been charged separately in federal court in San Jose.

The case resulted from an investigation by the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General and the FBI.