United States Department of Justice
On October 22, William D. Hyslop, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced the indictment of Christopher Hamilton Clemens, 39, of Clarkston, Washington, Hamilton’s West LLC, a Clarkston, Washington business owned and operated by Clemens, and Calandra Charging Eagle, 52, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, in connection with a federal bribery scheme. The Indictment charges Defendant Clemens with Bribery of a Public Official, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(1), and charges Defendant Charging Eagle with Accepting a Bribe as a Public Official, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(2). The Indictment also charges all three defendants with conspiracy to defraud the United States and theft of government property. All the charges in the Indictment are felonies.
According to the Indictment, Defendant Charging Eagle was a contracting official at the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (“BIA”), in its Albuquerque, New Mexico office. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is a federal agency that, among other things, provides funding and oversight for improvement projects on American Indian land and facilities. Defendant Hamilton’s West, a government contracting company owned and operated by Defendant Clemens, competed and sought to compete for Bureau of Indian Affairs and other federal government contracts.
The Indictment alleges that through her position as a contracting official at Bureau of Indian Affairs , Charging Eagle had access to internal and confidential Bureau of Indian Affairs estimates and other information regarding potential contracts, and had a role in approving contracts, modifications, and invoices. The Indictment charges that between June and October 2018, Clemens and Charging Eagle engaged in a bribery scheme in which Clemens agreed to pay a $10,700 debt owed by Charging Eagle to the Sandia Resort and Casino, a resort, casino, and event center located in Albuquerque. In return, the Indictment charges, Charging Eagle agreed to use her position to steer Bureau of Indian Affairs contracts, including an over half-million dollar contract to provide lightning protection improvements at the Navajo Nation’s Pine Hill School in New Mexico, to Clemens and his companies. The Indictment also charges that in return for the bribe, Charging Eagle provided Clemens and his companies with inside confidential information regarding Bureau of Indian Affairs ’s procurement process, including, but not limited to, providing Clemens and his companies with the Independent Government Cost Estimate and other confidential and internal Bureau of Indian Affairs information in order to provide Clemens and his companies with an unfair competitive advantage in obtaining the Pine Hill School lightning protection contract and other Bureau of Indian Affairs contracts.
United States Attorney Hyslop said “the integrity of the federal procurement process is critical to ensuring that public funds are used appropriately and that precious and limited funds are used for improvements of tribal schools and facilities.” Hyslop continued, “I commend the excellent work of both the Department of Interior Office of Inspector General and the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General in investigating this scheme. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute individuals and companies that misuse the federal contracting process.”
The bribery charges, if proved, carry a maximum penalty of a 15-year term of imprisonment; up to a $250,000 fine; and up to a 3-year term of court supervision following any term of imprisonment. The theft of government property and conspiracy charges, if proved, carry a maximum penalty of 10 and 5 years of incarceration, respectively.
An Indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Interior Office of Inspector General and Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General. This case is being prosecuted by Dan Fruchter and Tyler H.L. Tornabene, Assistant United States Attorneys for the Eastern District of Washington.
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