Judge allows photos at Rauch-owned Dayton business in EPA dumping case

A judge ruled against the attorneys for a prominent Dayton-area businessman seeking to suppress evidence against him and his businesses in an illegal dumping case.

Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Timothy O’Connell overruled a motion by Steve Rauch’s lawyers to not allow evidence collected at Bearcreek Farms, one of three of Rauch’s businesses charged in the case involving materials dumped at city of West Carrollton-owned land, court records show.

The ruling issued Friday followed a hearing in a case involving involves the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the state Environmental Protection Agency.

Rauch, 64, one of his managers and the Rauch businesses face felony charges in a case that all charged parties have entered not guilty pleas.

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The defense contended the taking of photos by West Carrollton city officials at Bearcreek Farms was obtained without a warrant and violated the Fourth Amendment.

O’Connell ruled Friday the evidence collected by West Carrollton could be used in the case, records show. The city said the photos were taken with a zoom lens from a public roadway, according to court records.

In August 2016, West Carrollton Detective Robert Bell took photos while in a vehicle driven by Carl Enterman, the city’s chief code enforcement officer, on a public road, court records state.

“When they arrived in front of the farm, Detective Bell observed large piles of debris and took several photographs of the farm from the passenger seat of the vehicle,” according to a filing from the attorney general’s office.

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“Some of the photographs show solid waste piled up on the ground behind an open, ranch-style fence on the farm,” the filing states.

Rauch and his businesses do private work and have received millions of dollars in local and federal contracts, including work at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and for the city of Dayton.

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.

A third company, Rauch Trucking Co. Inc., was indicted last 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. No trial date has been set in the case.

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