Former USACE Engineer Convicted of Bribery
|Aug. 22, 2012|
HOUSTON - Christopher Castillo, 33, of Monte Alto, Texas, has entered a plea of guilty to one count of bribery, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today along with Special Agent Frank Robey, director of the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command's (USACID) Major Procurement Fraud Unit (MPFU). Castillo was a civil engineer with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE). Castillo was charged by criminal information on July 2, 2012, and entered his guilty plea just moments ago before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Froeschner.
“We are extremely satisfied with the plea agreement,” said Robey. “It comes after an intense investigation following a sizable fraud and once again, showcases the hard work of our MPFU special agents and their federal law enforcement partners. Anyone attempting to defraud the U.S. Army should know that we will pursue the truth no matter how hard they attempt to cover their tracks.”
Castillo admitted that as part of his official duty, he supervised projects in the Southern District of Texas and the performance of government contractors. One such contractor had been involved in numerous construction jobs for the U.S. government in 2010, 2011 and 2012, including an emergency power cooling building for the U.S. Border Patrol located in Hidalgo County. As supervisor of that project, Castillo could terminate work if he believed it was unfavorable or he could unfavorably report to USACE thereby preventing the company from getting future contracts.
A USACID agent obtained information that Castillo solicited and received a new concrete driveway from the owner of that company in late 2010 while it was engaged in contract services for the U.S. government. Specifically, Castillo asked that his driveway be paved and that the owner must pay for the work. The owner was afraid to refuse because Castillo could prevent him from getting government contracts.
The owner paid another person to install the driveway, paid the expenses and supplied much of the material. The project had an estimated value of $80,000 and was completed on or about Jan. 14, 2012.
“The actions of this individual are not in line with the Army's Core Values nor are they reflective of the service the Corps provides our nation,” said Col. Christopher Sallese, district commander of the USACE Galveston District. “As public servants, we are committed to managing taxpayers' dollars while maintaining the publics' trust and we will continue to work with the Criminal Investigation Command and Department of Justice to ensure that employees and contractors who commit fraud are held accountable.”
Once the plea is officially accepted by U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa, Castillo will face a maximum of 15 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is set for Nov. 28, 2012. He was permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.
The case was investigated by USACID and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney James McAlister.