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Watchdog: Accountability

Federal contractor who 'broke the trust' of veterans charged in murder of estranged wife

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Crime,Watchdog,Mark Flatten,Veterans Affairs,Accountability,Veterans,Government Contractors,Law

Murder charges have been filed against the Virginia executive who triggered outrage for using his questionable status as a disabled military veteran to win a half-billion dollars' worth of questioned technology contracts for the Internal Revenue Service, the Washington Times reports.

Braulio Castillo, chief executive of Strong Castle Inc., was able to secure the contracts in part because of a foot injury sustained in 1984 while he was attending a military prep school. That was enough for Castillo to qualify as the owner of what the government calls a "service-disabled, veteran-owned small business." That entitled him to special bidding preferences in federal contracts.

Castillo was charged with the murder of his estranged wife in Loudoun County, Va., according to the Times. Michelle Castillo was found beaten and hanged in a downstairs bathroom of her home, local authorities told Washington's WRC-TV Channel 4. She had been strangled, and the perpetrator attempted to make her death look like a suicide, police told Channel 4.

The IRS deal drew a particularly sharp rebuke from Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., who lost both legs and the partial use of her right arm in a combat helicopter crash in Iraq in 2004.

“Shame on you,” Duckworth said during a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing in June. “You may not have broken any laws. We're not sure yet. You certainly broke the trust of this great nation. You broke the trust of veterans.”

The Washington Examiner reported in a five-part series last year that lax oversight of the SDVOSB program makes it vulnerable to fraud, which government investigators have found could be costing taxpayers hundreds of millions annually.

The Times article can be found here.

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Mark Flatten

Senior Watchdog Reporter
The Washington Examiner