Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ouachita County judge indicted

Posted By on Thu, Jan 17, 2013 at 5:27 PM

Ouachita County Judge James Michael Hesterly has been charged in a federal indictment with awarding a federally financed disaster relief contract to a Bearden man in return for a campaign finance contribution in 2010.

Details follow from the U.S. attorney's office in Fort Smith:

NEWS RELEASE

Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, and Randy Coleman, Special Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced today that James Michael Hesterly, age 49 of Camden, Arkansas, and Harry Clemons Jr., age 39 of Bearden, Arkansas, were indicted for a scheme to award a Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) disaster-relief contract to Clemons in return for a contribution to Hesterly’s 2010 reelection campaign for Ouachita County Judge. Hesterly has been the county judge of Ouachita County Arkansas for the past 10 years. Harry Clemons is the owner and operator of Clemons Construction. A federal grand jury handed down the indictment in Fort Smith.

As alleged in documents filed in court, beginning in March 2010, Hesterly and Clemons conspired to award Clemons a contract to clean up debris in Ouachita County in exchange for a payment to Hesterly to his reelection campaign. The debris was the product of two tornados that struck the county in October of 2009. In furtherance of this conspiracy, Clemons arranged for two other bidders to submit intentionally inflated bids to Hesterly through fax. Clemons then met with Hesterly at his office and submitted a bid on behalf of himself and another company for the contract in the amount of $120,730, a total amount below the inflated bids. Hesterly accepted Clemons’s bid on March 26, 2010, and, on April 8, 2010, applied for federal funds from FEMA to help Ouachita County pay for the contract. Hesterly represented to FEMA that Clemons was the lowest bidder among the three bids that he had received. In order to promote open competition, federal regulations require that the contract be awarded through a sealed bidding process and in compliance with all applicable state law. While state law requires the bid to be advertised for 10 days, the bid in this case was advertised for one day. No sealed bidding process took place. In August 2010, Clemons submitted documentation to Hesterly stating that all work on the contract had been complete and requested a payment of $69,865 for Clemons Construction. That same month, Hesterly certified to the state of Arkansas and FEMA that the work set forth in the contract had been completed. On October 13, 2010, Hesterly signed an order allowing Clemons’s claim for payment to go through. Later that month, Clemons received a check from Ouachita County for $69,865.

The indictment charges both men with one count of conspiracy to defraud an agency of the United States and two counts of bribery concerning a program receiving federal funds. The maximum term of imprisonment for conspiracy is 5 years. The maximum term of imprisonment for bribery is 10 years per count.
This case was investigated by the FBI. Assistant United States Attorney Kenny Elser represented the United States.

Hesterly and Clemons are scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow, January 18, 2013, at the Federal Courthouse in El Dorado, Arkansas, at 10 a.m.

Tags:

Favorite

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • Home again

    The plan, formulated months ago, was this: Ellen and I were going to go to Washington for inauguration festivities, then fly out the morning after the balls for Panama City and a long planned cruise to begin with a Panama Canal passage.
  • Who needs courts?

    Not since the John Birch Society's "Impeach Earl Warren" billboards littered Southern roadsides after the Supreme Court's school-integration decision in 1954 has the American judicial system been under such siege, but who would have thought the trifling Arkansas legislature would lead the charge?
  • Bungling

    If the late, great Donald Westlake had written spy thrillers instead of crime capers, they'd read a lot like the opening weeks of the Trump administration.
  • UPDATE: Campus carry bill amended by Senate to require training

    The Senate this morning added an amendment to Rep. Charlie Collins campus carry bill that incorporates the effort denied in committee yesterday to require a 16-hour additional training period before university staff members with concealed carry permits may take the weapons on campus.
  • Director to resign from state court administrative office

    Supreme Court Chief Justice John Dan Kemp announced today the resignation of J.D. Gingerich, long-time director of the administrative office of the courts.

Visit Arkansas

New Crystal Bridges exhibit explores Mexican-American border

New Crystal Bridges exhibit explores Mexican-American border

Border Cantos is a timely, new and free exhibit now on view at Crystal Bridges.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation