Rauch manager says boss ordered dumping which led to EPA charges

Published: Thursday, October 10, 2019 @ 10:45 AM
Updated: Friday, October 11, 2019 @ 9:04 AM

Illegal dumping charges against a prominent Dayton-area contractor and his businesses were spurred by actions of company President Steve Rauch to save money.

A company manager charged in the illegal dumping case of Steve Rauch and his businesses testified the defendant told her in 2016 he was sending mattresses to a West Carrollton dump site where it was illegal to bury them.

Jennifer Copeland also told the jury Thursday in the trial of her boss that Rauch had directed solid waste to be buried at a company landfill not licensed for such disposal.

The SRI Inc. operations manager said her testimony came after a deal with the state in which Copeland said she could avoid prosecution as long as her trial version was “consistent and truthful” with a summary of an FBI account of her 2017 interview with federal investigators.

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Copeland said she thought the FBI interview - which was not recorded - was a confidential session, only to find out later that it was shared with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

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Copeland said Rauch told her in a Jan. 29, 2016 phone call that mattresses from a Miamisburg hotel demolition site owned by Kettering Health Network were being taken to be dumped at West Carrollton’s Hydraulic Road property. Mattresses are not permitted to be buried at that location, which handles only “clean hard fill,” such as concrete and brick.

“I spoke with Steve and he told me that they were going to take the mattresses over to Hydraulic Road,” said Copeland, a 14-year SRI employee.

“I told him I didn’t think that was a good idea,” she said, crying. “They’re not supposed to be there.”

Rauch responded by using profanity, she said.

Rauch, 64, of Germantown, faces criminal charges in the state Environmental Protection Agency case filed by the attorney general’s office involving the West Carrollton and Miamisburg sites.

EARLIER: State blames ‘Steve Rauch Way’ in illegal dumping case

He sat near motionless with his legs crossed throughout Copeland’s testimony, similar to his demeanor throughout the trial.

Two of his companies – SRI Inc. and Rauch Trucking – are also on trial after indictments issued in late 2018 and earlier this year.

Copeland, 33, of Franklin, was indicted with Steve Rauch in November, but faces a “deferred prosecution” as part of the deal with the state, court officials said.

Rauch attorney Chad Ziepfel said Steve Rauch did not order the mattresses from KHN’s Miamisburg Wyndham Hotel site to be buried at the West Carrollton property.

He indicated one of Rauch truck drivers – whom Ziepfel called a “problem employee” – later buried the mattresses.

By the spring, excavators at the Hydraulic Road site would find more than 100 mattresses - many with Wyndham labels - among several tons illegal materials buried at the site, according to earlier testimony.

While Copeland said Rauch had directed solid waste to be buried at an SRI landfill licensed to dispose of only construction and demolition debris, she said her boss did not take that action in the 2016 timeframes he is accused of in the indictment.

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Copeland said she felt “terrible” about having to testify against her boss. She acknowledged that Steve Rauch became aware of her agreement with the state sometime ago, but she has maintained her job, title and salary throughout the process.

On Wednesday, Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Timothy O’Connell dismissed several charges against Rauch and his firms, court records show.

The attorney general’s office asked on Monday to dismiss two charges against Rauch, two counts against SRI Inc. and the lone charge against Bearcreek Farms Inc.

Bearcreek was indicted on operating a solid waste facility without a license.

Rauch was indicted on five felony counts, including three open dumping and burning, and two counts operating a solid-waste facility without a license.

The state asked to drop one charge in each of the different categories, records show.

SRI was indicted on five counts of unlawfully and recklessly disposing of solid wastes by open dumping not authorized, court records show.