IRS Gave $500 Million in Veterans Contracts for Twisted Ankle

Thursday, 27 Jun 2013 09:29 AM

By Melanie Batley

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A Washington, D.C., business owner won lucrative IRS contracts under a special program for disabled veterans -- because he twisted his ankle 27 years ago playing football at a military prep school.

Strong Castle owner Braulio Castillo was awarded information-technology contracts with the agency worth almost $500 million by manipulating eligibility rules for IRS special programs, Fox News reported.

He also took advantage of an IRS program for businesses that employ economically disadvantaged applicants. Although his business is located in a low-income neighborhood in Washington's Chinatown, he employed students from Catholic University.

Castillo filed for a disability rating in 2012 with the Veterans Administration, saying it was based on "a foot injury he suffered in 1984." That allowed him to register Strong Castle as a "service-disabled, veteran-owned small business," CBS News reported.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran and double-amputee, blasted Castillo at a House Oversight committee meeting Wednesday.

"I'm so glad that you would be willing to play football in prep school again to protect this great country. Shame on you, Mr. Castillo, shame on you," the Illinois Democrat said.

"We've found the kind of wrongdoing that should have caused this contract to be canceled," Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said during the hearing, according to CBS News.

"Understand — never served a day on active duty, went to a school at taxpayers' expense, and had a minor injury that didn't keep him from going on to play college ball," Issa said.

Greg Roseman, an IRS deputy director and close personal friend of Castillo, awarded him the contracts. Roseman was called before the committee to testify but instead invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination.

It was the second time since news of the IRS targeting controversy broke that a senior agency official has invoked the Fifth Amendment. Lois Lerner, former director of the IRS Exempt Organizations division, appeared before the committee May 22 and refused to answer questions about the agency's targeting of conservative groups.

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