DAYTON — A prominent businessman — the owner of local trucking, landfill and demolition companies — accused of illegally dumping materials at three places in the Miami Valley is speaking out about the charges he is facing and an ongoing federal investigation.
Almost three years ago, state and federal investigators raided Steve Rauch’s properties and confiscated boxes of potential evidence.
His interview comes ahead of his trial on state charges that starts next Tuesday in a Montgomery County court. Rauch agreed to sit down for an exclusive interview with News Center 7’s Sean Cudahy and Dayton Daily News reporter Josh Sweigart on one condition, that he not be recorded on camera.
In an interview lasting more than an hour, Rauch said a series of innocent mistakes and misunderstandings led to the state charges against him.
News Center 7 started following Rauch’s case in December 2016. That’s when local, state and federal investigators raided three places: Rauch’s offices and landfill in Dayton, a site in West Carrollton where he had gotten permission to dump construction materials, and his Jefferson Twp. cattle farm.
At the time, investigators would not say why they were there.
Last November, state prosecutors charged Rauch, one of his business managers and a couple of his three companies.
During a more than hourlong interview with Rauch, we asked him about a West Carrollton site on Hydraulic Road, where he’s accused of illegally dumping 30 tons of mattresses and debris from a hotel he tore down.
“It was strictly an accident,” he said. His workers were supposed to take the materials somewhere else, Rauch said, but “didn’t follow instructions.”
We asked Rauch about his cattle farm, Bearcreek, where court records accuse Rauch of storing waste to hide from health inspectors.
Rauch said the material at the farm was mistakenly sent there by Fuyao, the Chinese-owned auto glass manufacturer in Moraine, which does business with one of his companies.
And we asked Rauch about accusations of improper dumping at his own landfill, right next to his office where we met with him.
He said the improper fill investigators found was “still in the unloading zone” and would have been quickly sorted and the issue fixed.
Rauch said he believes some of the trouble is due in part to the city of West Carrollton. He said he thinks the city started this, thinking it could lean on his deep pockets to help pay for a cleanup at the same site where the city gave him permission to dump.
On that site, tests have shown traces of toxic chemicals underground. Now the city is trying to find money to pay for a cleanup, he said.
It’s on that subject, Rauch agreed to answer just one question on camera: What is the best-case scenario?
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“I think that the citizens of West Carrollton are going to be the winners because instead of a cover-up it’s going to be a cleanup, to ensure the children and all the homes in that area that they’ll be safe and sound, with that sludge pit gone,” he said.