Crime - Sacto 911

VA official sentenced for accepting job-related gratuities

A Veterans Affairs contracting official has been sentenced for accepting gifts in relation to his job duties, which included influencing the award of construction contracts for the Sacramento VA Medical Center.

Anthony Castaneda, 45, of Oakdale in Stanislaus County, was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. to five months of house arrest and two years of probation for receipt of a gratuity by a public official, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release.

According to court documents, while working as a contracting official for 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 2010, Castaneda received from a construction contractor a prepaid vacation package at a theme park worth approximately $2,250. Castaneda and his family traveled to the theme park for five days in October 2010. At the time he accepted the gift, authorities said, Castaneda was in a position to influence the award of 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 $1,440 in 2008.

Castaneda pleaded guilty in federal court in Sacramento in August.

In addition to his period of house arrest, Castaneda was ordered to forfeit the value of the 2010 vacation and to pay a $2,000 fine.

The contractor involved, Jacobo Tadeo Herrera, pleaded guilty to providing a gratuity to a public official. He was sentenced in December in federal court in San Jose to three years probation.

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

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy