ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Two men, one a former employee of nonprofit WildEarth Guardians, made their first appearance in federal court Tuesday. They’re accused of taking more than $250,000 from WildEarth Guardians.

James I. Matison, 57, from Boulder, CO, and Jeffrey Ham, 46, from El Prado, NM, are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Matison previously worked for the Santa Fe-based WildEarth Guardians. Ham, a contractor, owned Timberline Environmental, LLC., which was allegedly part of the fraud scheme.

From February 2015 through April 2019, the duo conspired to overbill WildEarth Guardians, according to allegations made in court documents. They reportedly did so via Ham’s company, Timberline Environmental, LLC.

The board of WildEarth Guardians previously released a statement regarding the alleged fraud. “The organization made a referral to law enforcement and will seek restitution of all the diverted monies as aggressively as possible,” the statement said in part. The nonprofit added that they would work to improve accounting controls.

Ham and Matison both face 20 years in prison if convicted, according to the DOJ. But first, they’re entitled to their day in court, which has not yet been scheduled.