After several tons of illegal materials were found dumped and buried at West Carrollton land on Hydraulic Road in 2016, the city installed security equipment at the site and installed signs. One of those signs warn against the dumping of non-approved materials. NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF

Defense: City told Dayton-area businessman solid waste dumping was OK

A prominent Dayton businessman and his companies are questioning charges of illegal dumping on West Carrollton-owned land, saying a city official told them solid waste could be disposed of at the site.

Court records state Steve Rauch was told by West Carrollton Chief Code Enforcement Officer Carl Enterman that solid waste “was permitted” on the 30 acres of city-owned Hydraulic Road land where the Ohio Attorney General’s Office said illegal dumping occurred.

Health officials closed the site in 2016 and said items such as electric conduits, wood and mattresses were discovered as part of more than 30 tons of illegal materials buried in the land.

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Rauch, 64, one of his managers and three Rauch businesses face felony charges in a case that involves the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. All charged parties have entered not guilty pleas, but no trial date has been set.

The Montgomery County grand jury indictment against Rauch stated he “did unlawfully and recklessly dispose of solid wastes” at the West Carrollton site. Court records state mattresses were being hauled from the former Wyndham Hotel in Miamisburg, which Rauch’s companies were contracted to demolish for Kettering Health Network.

“The Rauch defendants intend to assert numerous defenses at trial,” according to court documents filed Friday. “One anticipated defense is that even if the jury finds that Mr. Rauch instructed his employees to take mattresses to the……site, such instruction was not reckless, and thus not a criminal open dumping violation.

“One of the reasons that this instruction was not reckless is because Mr. Enterman told Mr. Rauch that solid waste was permitted” at the site, records state.

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The Ohio Revised Code states only “clean hard fill” — asphalt, concrete, stone, brick, tile or block — can be dumped and buried at the site, according to Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County

West Carrollton officials declined Monday to comment on communication between Enterman and Rauch.

The defense’s document dated Friday is in response to an attorney general’s submission seeking to block the defense from being permitted to use information the state says is “evidence of mistake of fact.”

It among a handful of filings this month in the case, including a brief in which the defense contends data collected by West Carrollton officials was obtained illegally at one of Rauch’s businesses - Bearcreek Farms, a claim the state disputes.

The AG’s office wants the court to keep “the defendants from arguing or presenting evidence of and raising irrelevant and inadmissible mistake of law and mistake of fact defenses, along with potentially requesting erroneous jury instructions related to these claims,” court records show.

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The defense wants the court to order “suppressing evidence collected at Bearcreek Farms without a warrant in violation of the Fourth Amendment.”

The evidence in question involves information gathered by employees from the city of West Carrollton, according to court records. The state said the evidence – photos – were taken with a zoom lens from a public roadway.

Rauch was indicted in November 2018 on counts of open dumping and burning, and operating a solid waste facility without a license. Rauch and one of his managers, Jennifer M. Copeland, were both charged last year in an illegal dumping case involving his businesses, Bearcreek Farms and SRI Inc.

In December, Rauch and Copeland pleaded not guilty to the charges. A third company, Rauch Trucking Co. Inc., was indicted earlier this month on a charge of illegal dumping.

Rauch faces five counts and Copeland four counts for alleged crimes committed between January 2016 and late December 2016, court records show.

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