State Attorney General Kamala Harris filed felony grand theft charges against a Santa Barbara environmental contractor — Hayden Environmental Inc. — alleging the company and its principals overcharged the state for cleaning up underground storage tanks at old gas stations. The complaint alleges that over the past five years, Hayden Environmental overbilled to the tune of 57 percent and that the state overpaid to the tune of 31 percent. That translates to $2 million.
In 2008, Kurt Hayden allegedly claimed to have worked the equivalent of 11.2 hours a day. The State Water Resources Control Board pays contractors up to $1.5 million to clean up underground storage tanks to prevent the chemicals from percolating through the soil and seeping into the groundwater. Hayden had worked on 22 sites. The prosecution was triggered by an audit of three sites by the state’s Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Prevention Unit. Calls to Hayden and his wife have not been answered, and Hayden’s attorney declined to comment.