GALVESTON, Texas - Christopher Castillo, 33, of Monte Alto, has been handed a federal prison sentence after having been convicted of one count of bribery, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Castillo entered a plea of guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Froeschner on Aug. 22, 2012, which was later accepted by U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa.
Today, Judge Costa considered the evidence and sentenced Castillo to a term of 48 months in federal prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. Castillo was also ordered to pay a $50,000 fine. Calling bribery a serious offense, Judge Costa noted commented that Castillo was living the American Dream as an engineer with a master’s degree, but that was not enough for him. At the hearing, Castillo offered an apology for his actions.
“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 U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (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.”
Castillo was a civil engineer with USACE under the direction of the Galveston office. At the time of his plea, he 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.
Previously released on bond, Castillo was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The case was investigated by United States Army Criminal Investigation Command's USACID and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney James McAlister.