Jennifer Copeland testifies in common pleas court
Photo: Staff Writer
Photo: Staff Writer

NEW DETAILS: Charges dropped against Rauch manager who testified in EPA dumping case

Charges have been dismissed against a manager who agreed to testify against local businessman Steve Rauch in an EPA illegal dumping case that resulted in a felony conviction of Rauch’s landfill company.

A request from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to drop the felony indictment against Rauch Operations Manager Jennifer Copeland, 33, has been granted by Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Timothy O’Connell, records show.

“For good cause shown, the court hereby grants the motion and dismisses the indictment against defendant Jennifer Copeland with prejudice and orders defendant Jennifer Copeland to pay the court costs,” the judge’s filing states.

Copeland, of Franklin, was charged with four felony counts, including aiding and abetting Rauch, according to the indictment.

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

The Ohio AG’s office cites an Aug. 9 deferred prosecution agreement it has with Copeland in the case involving Rauch, 64, of Germantown, his businesses and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, court records show.

The decision to toss out the four felony counts against Copeland comes as sentencing is scheduled for Monday against SRI, which a jury last month found guilty of one felony and one misdemeanor charge.

The jury found Rauch, the company president, and his businesses not guilty on a handful of other felony and misdemeanor charges.

Those allegations stemmed from illegal dumping and illegal waste disposal involving a Kettering Health Network demolition site in Miamisburg, city of West Carrollton-owned land near the Great Miami River, and SRI Inc. property in 2016.

EARLIER: 3 new indictments expand Dayton fraud probe

Copeland testified Rauch told her in a Jan. 29, 2016 phone call that mattresses from the KHN demolition site 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.

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.

Copeland testified 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.

RELATED: Jury finds Steve Rauch not guilty in EPA illegal dumping case

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

Last month, unrelated federal charges against Rauch were announced. Those charges involve a corruption investigation into the city of Dayton. Rauch and two others were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and six counts of mail fraud.

In the EPA case, Rauch and Copeland were both indicted by the Ohio AG’s office in November 2018.

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.

RELATED: City: ‘Whistleblower’ pointed at Rauch; defense says city gave its OK

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