WASHINGTON, D.C. – Michael L. Hayhurst, Jr. was indicted today by a federal grand jury and charged with violating the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act and for covering up illegal discharges of dredged material from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in connection with a dredging operation he supervised in Calibogue Sound in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
According to the indictment, Hayhurst was hired as the project manager for the dredging operation by South Island Dredging Association (SIDA). SIDA was formed by a number of homeowner associations and others for the purpose of funding and obtaining approval from the Army Corps for the dredging operation. The Army Corps issued a permit to SIDA to dredge areas in and around Calibogue Sound but required that fine-grained dredged material not to be used for beach restoration be placed in an ocean-going barge for disposal at a designated site in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of South Carolina. The permit also required that the ocean-going barge be equipped with electronic tracking equipment to ensure that it was in fact making trips to the ocean disposal site.
“The indictment in this case alleges that the defendant disregarded the laws that protect our waters, with a clear intent to deceive the Corps of Engineers,” said Sue Ellen Wooldridge, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We will prosecute those who violate the laws designed to protect our valuable resources.”
Instead of complying with the terms of the permit, the indictment alleges that between February and May of 2003, Hayhurst illegally dumped dredged materials into Calibogue Sound and altered and modified the course and condition of the Sound. The indictment further alleges that Hayhurst violated the False Statements Act when he placed seawater instead of dredged material into the ocean-going barge and transported the seawater to the ocean disposal site to conceal from the Army Corps the fact that he was illegally discharging the dredged material into Calibogue Sound.
“Environmental crime involves a betrayal of the public trust—and our nation’s resources,” said U.S. Attorney Jonathan S. Gasser for the district of South Carolina. “Today’s indictment shows that the United States Attorney’s Office will continue to be vigilant and proactive in fulfilling its commitment to enforce our Nation’s environmental laws.”
“Dredging is a critical activity in providing navigation throughout the country,” said John Paul Woodley, Jr., Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works of the Army Corps of Engineers. “This indictment reflects the Army's deep commitment to ensuring that dredging is conducted in an environmentally responsible manner.”
If convicted, Hayhurst faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison on the Clean Water Act charge, five years in prison for the False Statements Act charge, and one year in prison for the Rivers and Harbors Act charge.
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and the Criminal Investigations Division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney David Kehoe at the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Emery Clark. An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.