• Subscribe to the AG's RSS Feed
  • Join the AG's FaceBook
  • Follow the AG on Twitter
  • View the AG's YouTube Channel
  • View the AG's Tumblr Page

Attorney General Lockyer Announces Settlement of Lawsuit Alleging Ripoff of Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund

Tuesday, July 8, 2003
Contact: (415) 703-5837

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced Santa Rosa-based Environet Consulting and others will pay almost $400,000 to resolve allegations that they bilked the state's Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund out of roughly $200,000, under a lawsuit settlement approved by the Sacramento County Superior Court.

"The Legislature established this Fund to protect public health and safety, and to pay for cleanup costs when insurance coverage is not available," Lockyer said. "Citizens and taxpayers can ill afford a ripoff of this vital program, especially as the state suffers unprecedented fiscal woes."

Lockyer brought the action against Environet and other defendants under the California False Claims Act. The Act prohibits fraudulent claims against the state and can subject violators to treble damages and civil penalties. The case marked the first brought under the Act in connection with fraudulent claims on the Fund. The defendants include: Environet; Linda Mackey, the company's principal; Gary Johnson, Environet's chief geologist; and William Staley and Mary Scott, former owners of a Ukiah car dealership.

The suit alleged the defendants defrauded the Fund by claiming reimbursement for cleanup costs caused by a leaking underground waste oil tank when, in fact, the damage was caused by a septic tank system improperly used to dispose of hazardous waste materials. The Fund cannot be tapped to provide reimbursement for cleanup work associated with septic tank systems.

Under the settlement, the defendants will pay $391,282 – twice the amount they wrongfully obtained from the Fund, which is administered by the State Water Resources Control Board. Additionally, the settlement prohibits Mackey and Johnson from making false or misleading statements to state agencies regarding environmental cleanup projects.

The lawsuit originally was brought by a "whistle blower" plaintiff, Lee Howard. Howard, a contractor who worked at the property, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the state after the property owners sued him for failing to obtain reimbursement from the Fund, among other allegations. Under a provision of the False Claims Act designed to reward whistle blowers who help the state recover fraudulently-obtained funds, Howard will receive 22 percent of the settlement proceeds, or $86,082. The state will receive $305,200.

# # #

Search News Releases

Subscriptions

Megan's Law

California Registered Sex Offender Database

Search Now

Megan's Law information is also available in these languages:

Site Navigation

Translate Website

  • Google™ Translation Disclaimer

This Google™ translation feature is provided for informational purposes only.

The Office of the Attorney General is unable to guarantee the accuracy of this translation and is therefore not liable for any inaccurate information resulting from the translation application tool.

Please consult with a translator for accuracy if you are relying on the translation or are using this site for official business.

If you have any questions please contact:Bilingual Services Program at (916) 324-5482

A copy of this disclaimer can also be found on our Disclaimer page.

Select a Language Below / Seleccione el Idioma Abajo

Close this box or use the [ X ]