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Press Release

Two Businessmen Charged for $1M Kickback Scheme Involving Nuclear Weapons Components

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

An indictment was unsealed today in Kansas City, Kansas, charging two businessmen for an alleged scheme to fraudulently steer and award subcontracts by a major engineering firm for work on nuclear weapons manufacturing projects for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Kansas City National Security Campus (KCNSC). 

According to court documents, from at least 2011 through approximately January 2021, Michael Clinesmith, 67, of Kansas, allegedly solicited and received kickbacks and bribes from Richard Mueller, 63, of Missouri, in exchange for steering subcontracts from Clinesmith’s employer to Mueller’s company (Subcontractor 1). Clinesmith, a long-tenured employee of a major engineering firm (Company 1) working at the KCNSC, was responsible for designing and procuring gages that were specially designed and manufactured to measure the components of nuclear weapon products. Clinesmith allegedly used his position and authority at Company 1 to steer gage subcontracts to Subcontractor 1 in exchange for Mueller paying him over $1 million for surreptitiously performing some or all of the work. Clinesmith is alleged to have told Mueller how much to bid on gage subcontracts that Company 1 awarded. Then, Clinesmith told his employer, Company 1, that those bids were fair and reasonable without disclosing that, in exchange for the subcontracts, Mueller would secretly funnel to Clinesmith the money awarded to Subcontractor 1. The indictment also alleges that Mueller lied to federal agents regarding the number of impacted subcontracts and his involvement in the scheme.

Clinesmith and Mueller are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and honest services wire fraud and four counts of wire fraud and honest services wire fraud. Mueller is also charged with one count of making false statements to federal agents. If convicted, they each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the conspiracy, wire fraud, and honest services wire fraud charges. Mueller also faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for the false statements charge.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Kate E. Brubacher for the District of Kansas, and Special Agent in Charge Justin Kessel of the Department of Energy Office of Inspector General (DOE-OIG), Western Field Office made the announcement.

The DOE-OIG Western Field Office is investigating the case.

Trial Attorney Andrew Jaco of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is prosecuting the case.

If you believe you are a victim in this case, please contact the Fraud Section’s Victim Witness Unit toll-free at (888) 549-3945 or by email at To learn more about victims’ rights, please visit

An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated October 19, 2023

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 23-1161