Colorado Man Pleads Guilty to Charges in Wire Fraud and Money Laundering Scheme
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE – Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, the Department of the Interior (DOI) Office of Inspector General, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General announced today that James Matison pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering. Matison, 46, of Pueblo, Colorado, will remain on conditions of release pending sentencing, which has not been scheduled.
According to the plea agreement, Matison was the Program Director for Restoration Programs at WildEarth Guardians, a not-for-profit which relies on funding from federal agencies, the State of New Mexico and other not-for-profit organizations. As Program Director, Matison was responsible for approving all Restoration Program project invoices submitted by contractors for payment. One such contractor was Timberline Environmental, LLC, a Colorado based environmental company owned and operated by Matison’s co-defendant, Jeffrey Ham. In 2015, Matison was experiencing financial difficulties and asked Ham for help with a fraudulent scheme to obtain money from WildEarth Guardians. Ham agreed to allow Matison to generate fraudulent invoices from Timberline for submission to and payment from WildEarth Guardians, which Matison would approve for payment. Matison would collect the checks and deposit them into Timberline’s bank account. Ham provided Matison with pre-signed blank Timberline checks which Matison would use to write checks to an entity called Euro-American Development, an Arizona company under Matison’s control. In this manner, Matison obtained $242,210 from WildEarth guardians between Feb. 2015 and Feb. 2019 when Ham put a stop to the scheme.
By the terms of his plea agreement, Matison faces up to twenty years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.
Jeffrey Ham pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud on July 17, 2023. At sentencing, Ham faces up to twenty years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.
The Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General and the Department of the Interior Office of Inspector General investigated this case. Assistant United States Attorney Jeremy Peña is prosecuting the case.
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Updated November 20, 2023
Press Release Number: 23-269