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Rauch ordered illegal dumping cover-ups, unsealed warrants allege

Demolition contractor and landfill owner Steve Rauch responded to illegal dumping citations with orders for employees to further cover it up, according to affidavits in search warrants recently unsealed in his criminal case.

Rauch, operations manager Jennifer Copeland and Rauch’s SRI and Bearcreek Farms businesses face five felony counts of open dumping and burning and operating a solid waste facility without a license.

RELATED: Rauch worker said dumping ‘was not good idea, court documents say

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency specialist David Combs wrote in a 2016 search warrant affidavit that Rauch’s companies “have routinely disposed and open dumped solid waste at SRI and the Bearcreek Farm in violation” of Ohio laws.

When Rauch’s businesses were caught violating dumping laws, he would direct his employees to cover up or move the material by driving a certain route, switching banned material from one site to another, getting dump tickets in a fraudulent way and not using GPS so routes weren’t captured in records, according to documents filed in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court and obtained by the Dayton Daily News.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Aerial video of sites involved in illegal dumping charges against Steve Rauch

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Rauch is a prominent local businessman, philanthropist and multi-million-dollar donor to local charitable causes. A scheduling conference for Rauch and Copeland is set for Feb. 19.

RELATED: Rauch was ordered repeatedly to clean up unauthorized waste

Rauch’s attorney didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment. An Ohio Attorney General Office’s spokesman said they don’t comment on pending litigation.

In his affidavit, Combs cited information from the Ohio EPA, West Carrollton’s code enforcement officer, West Carrollton Police Department, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, and Public Health — Dayton & Montgomery County.

A chronological order of events from the affidavits:

Jan. 26, 2016: A whistle blower and other drivers said they hauled loads of mattresses and box springs between a Kettering Health Network (KHN) site at 31 Prestige Place Drive in Miamisburg and the Appvion Waste Water Treatment Plant at 4000 Hydraulic Road in West Carrollton. The information came from anonymous calls.

RELATED: String of felony charges await businessman who changed Dayton’s skyline

Feb. 3, 2016: West Carrollton zoning inspectors "discovered unauthorized materials such as: tree debris, wood studs, plastic conduit, Visqueen (polyethylene plastic sheeting) and some carpet."

The inspectors requested to have the items removed and provide documentation where it was dumped. Rauch said he would have someone there the next day.

Feb. 4, 2016: The zoning inspectors went to Appvion and saw a Rauch employee removing about four truckloads of debris and asked for documentation.

“(An inspector) made contact with Rauch via telephone about the allegations and requesting a meeting immediately. (The inspector) documented Rauch told him not to worry about it and they would meet the following Tuesday when Rauch returns from Las Vegas.”

RELATED: Rauch, businesses face illegal dumping charges: What we know now

West Carrollton law director Lori Denlinger set up a non-affiliated contractor to conduct a dig and search. Rauch later “did not confirm or deny” that mattresses had been dumped.

Feb. 17. 2016: Interviews with two Steve Rauch drivers confirmed mattresses and box springs were transported to the Appvion site. The drivers said two workers "loaded the mattresses and box springs, then (another worker) loaded concrete on top of them."

Rauch was at the Kettering Health Network site and then the Appvion site. One driver was instructed by Copeland and another uncharged employee to haul the loads “until all of them were gone.”

When the pile was too high at Appvion, a driver pushed them into a lagoon. Another driver was instructed to take the “Steve Rauch” route to avoid detection.

RELATED: Cleaning illegal dump site near river taking longer

April 25, 2016: Several days of excavating the lagoon begin. Construction and demolition debris plus structural wooden timbers, concrete, metal pipe, etc. and solid waste (carpet, padding, sheet plastic, etc.) were recovered.

April 29 to May 19, 2016: More than 100 mattresses and other debris were excavated, some labeled in part "Wyndham Master Suite" and "Wyndham Premier."

About July 20, 2016: West Carrollton used city trucks to haul 30 loads of debris to the solid waste transfer station in Moraine. The total bill was $731.84.

About Aug. 1, 2016: A Rauch employee said he "was instructed to cover the (Steve Rauch landfill at 1550 West Carrollton-Soldiers Home Road) with dirt. It's believed that Rauch received prior warning of the inspection based on the urgency to cover the illegal material with dirt to hide it from plain view of the inspector."

RELATED: Dayton terminated contracts with demolition contractor years ago

Aug. 2, 2016: A public health inspector noted several violations, including numerous mattresses, car parts, broken auto glass, general trash and pipe with possible asbestos. The inspector inspector requested dump tickets to ensure the illegal materials were properly discarded. "After the inspector left, (a worker) was instructed to bury the prohibited material flagged by the inspector," the affidavit said.

Employers were told to transport containers of solid waste not flagged to the transfer station in exchange for dump tickets: “SRI would then provide the tickets to the inspector as evidence that they complied with the notice.”

Aug. 5, 2016: SRI anticipated return of the health inspector and was scheduled to pick up nine dumpster-style containers with broken auto glass, wood skids and metal pipe from Fuyao. Instead of being transported as usual to the SRI landfill, the material is taken to Steve Rauch's farm at 7750 Dayton Farmersville Road in Dayton.

“The farm, identified as Bearcreek Farms, is ran by (a man) who greets unknowns with a dog and he carries an unknown type of firearm,” the affidavit said.

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The affidavit said the plan was to dump the material temporarily and then move it after the inspection. Drivers, who are usually equipped with iPads for GPS coordinates, did not use any iPads “because SRI didn’t want the GPS data stored in the iPad.”

Sept. 7, 2016: County health inspectors at Bearcreek note illegal open dumping of solid waste and automobile windshields, Rauch was cited for illegal open dumping and illegal operating a solid waste landfill without a permit.

Sept. 11, 2016: Investigators met with a confidential source to discuss inspection at Rauch's landfill.

Sept. 21, 2016: Ohio EPA did a flyover with cooperation of the Ohio State Highway Patrol and discovered auto glass. Mattresses, box springs and auto glass were still there in December 2016.

MORE: Read other stories from Mark Gokavi

The search warrants, including a Dec. 20, 2016, federal one, were signed by judges and executed at multiple sites.

Among the items seized included hard drives, electronic files, data devices, cell phone information, miscellaneous files, a CD labeled Fuyao Glass, imaged iPads, Rauch’s computer contents, a white notebook with passwords, handwritten notes, unsigned proposals folder, passwords, images of Jennifer Copeland’s computer and other files.

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