BATAVIA, Ohio (FOX19) - A waste hauler is facing possible prison time after pleading guilty to environmental crimes after an investigation by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost found he was illegally dumping the waste on his personal property.
Donald Combs, 52, pleaded guilty this week to eight felonies including three counts of illegal open dumping of solid waste, two counts of illegal operation of a solid waste facility without a license, two counts of violating Ohio EPA director of environmental protection orders and one count of illegal open burning of solid wastes.
“This garbage man drove off with your trash, but was never headed to a landfill,” Yost said in a news release. “Actions have consequences and he will now have to pay for the mess he made.”
According to Yost, the offenses occurred at an unlicensed landfill adjacent to Combs’s home in a residential neighborhood at Parker Road and at his unlicensed commercial site of his waste-hauling business on State Route 28 in Goshen Township.
Yost said Combs illegally dumped thousands of pounds of waste he hauled away for four years. He solicited waste hauling business mostly by answering ads on Craigslist and undercut competitors who factored in the appropriate costs of properly dumping solid waste in a licensed landfill.
“I wonder about his customers. I mean, law-abiding citizens answered his ad on Craigslist. I’m sure they felt they were giving a guy a break by letting him earn a little bit of money. I am betting all of those people are shocked and appalled to learn their stuff ended up damaging the earth. There’s a reason we have laws to protect the air and water and land. They’re all connected and we all have to share them,” Yost said.
Some of the piles of solid waste, which were comingled with construction and demolition debris, were more than 20 feet high and the cleanup cost for the sites is estimated at nearly $1.3 million.
“What sets this apart is its willfulness. The EPA had been dealing with him for a long time. They had tried to work with him to explain the law. He had entered a consent agreement which is a promise he won’t do it anymore. We’ve been around and around and around with this guy and he’d say one thing and keep on doing his illegal dumping, so today we finally brought the hammer down,” Yost said.
Combs also pleaded guilty to open burning solid waste at the Parker Road site in March 2019. The Goshen Township Fire Department responded to his residential property and found an unattended fire.
Firefighters extinguished the solid waste fire, preventing it from spreading to adjacent residences.
While free on bond in his first criminal case, Combs disregarded Ohio EPA orders prohibiting him from hauling waste to his unlicensed State Route 28 site.
A Clermont County Grand Jury indicted Combs again in December for violating Ohio EPA orders. Combs entered guilty pleas to two counts of violating Ohio EPA orders in his second criminal case.
Combs is scheduled to appear for sentencing in both criminal cases on May 27 in Clermont County Common Pleas Court.
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