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Washington State News


Spokane, Washington – Yesterday, Vanessa R. Waldref, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Christopher Hamilton Clemens, age 42, currently of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and formerly of Clarkston, Washington, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Defraud the United States in connection with bribing a federal contracting official with the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (“BIA”) and fraudulently obtaining a contract with the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) in Moses Lake, Washington.

According to the plea agreement, Calandra Charging Eagle was a contracting official at the BIA, in its Albuquerque, New Mexico office. BIA is a federal agency that, among other things, provides funding and oversight for improvement projects on American Indian land and facilities. One of Defendant Clemens’ companies, Hamilton’s West, was a government contracting company owned and operated by Clemens, which competed and sought to compete for BIA and other federal government contracts.

According to court documents, through her position as a contracting official at BIA, Charging Eagle had access to internal and confidential BIA estimates and other information regarding potential contracts, and had a role in approving contracts, modifications, and invoices. In 2018, between June and October, according to the plea agreement, 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, according to court documents, Charging Eagle agreed to use her position to steer BIA 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. According to court documents, Charging Eagle provided Clemens and his companies with inside confidential information regarding BIA’s procurement process, including, but not limited to, providing Clemens and his companies with confidential and internal BIA 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 BIA contracts.

On October 21, 2020, a grand jury returned an indictment charging Clemens and Charging Eagle with Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and felony counts of paying and accepting a bribe, respectively. On December 9, 2021, Charging Eagle pleaded guilty to one count of violating 18 U.S.C. Sec. 201(b)(2), Public Official Accepting a Bribe, as a result of her role in the scheme and conspiracy with Clemens, and on March 17, 2022, Charging Eagle was sentenced to two-years of probation.  United States v. Charging Eagle, Case No. 2:20-CR-00142-TOR.

Prior to Charging Eagle pleading guilty to bribery, Clemens entered into a pre-trial diversion agreement with regard to the bribery scheme where he agreed to, and was ordered by the Court to, among other things, not commit any more crimes and to not engage in any federal contracting or subcontracting for a period of five years.  According, to court documents, in January 2022, approximately two months after being ordered to not engage in federal contracting, Clemens falsely certified, through a new company, that he was not prohibited from engaging in federal contracting.

Based on Clemens’ false and fraudulent certification, according to the plea agreement, in August of 2022 Clemens went on, through the new company, to fraudulently obtain a design-build contract in Moses Lake, Washington, with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  According to Clemens’ plea, between August of 2022 and October of 2023, while Clemens held himself out as the vice president of the new company, the FAA paid $479,818 to the new company under the design-build contract that it would not have paid had it known that Clemens had falsely and fraudulently represented that he was eligible to engage in federal contracting.  Clemens admitted in his plea agreement that he conspired with others to perpetrate the fraud on the FAA as part of his overall conspiring to defraud the United States including his earlier bribe to Charging Eagle to get BIA contracts.

“Bribing a federal official is a serious violation that undermines the basic fairness that we all expect and deserve from our government,” said United States Attorney Waldref.  “Similarly, ignoring a court order and continuing to fraudulently engage in federal contracting cannot and will not be tolerated,” said U.S. Attorney Waldref. “I want to thank our law enforcement partners, especial the Department of Interior, Office of Inspector General, Western Region, for their tremendous and longstanding efforts in rooting out this conspiracy.”

This case was investigated by the Department of Interior, Office of Inspector General Western Region. Assistant United States Attorneys Tyler Tornabene and Dan Fruchter are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.  Sentencing in this matter is scheduled for May 29, 2024, at 11:00 am in the Thomas Foley Federal Building and U.S. Court House in Spokane, Washington.


United States v. Christopher Hamilton Clemens, Case No: 2-24-CR-00030-TOR.