Schenectady County

Raucci charged in Schodack case

Alleged arsonist Steve Raucci posted $200,000 bond Tuesday and was released — into the waiting handc

Alleged arsonist Steve Raucci posted $200,000 bond Tuesday and was released — into the waiting handcuffs of a Schodack police detective.

Raucci, the suspended city schools facilities director, was arrested Tuesday evening by Schodack police on a warrant charging him with first-degree attempted arson as he was being released from the Schenectady County Jail.

The new charge follows a first-degree arson count he was initially arrested on Friday in Schenectady.

In the Schodack case, Raucci is accused of placing an incendiary device at a Simons Road home in January 2007, Schodack Police Chief Bernhard Peter said.

The device never went off. It was discovered after the resident called police about newly painted graffiti believed related to the device.

Raucci, 60, of Niskayuna, was arrested in Schenectady Friday, accused of placing another device at a Rotterdam home in August 2001. That device exploded, damaging a home’s entryway. No one was injured.

In the 2001 case, Raucci is believed to have been targeting someone else but placed the device at the wrong address.

In 2007 in Schodack, he hit his target, Peter said. Raucci, however, may not have been personally acquainted with the target, the chief said.

“It was something he decided to get involved in and be helpful, shall we say,” Peter said.

Schodack police have been working on their case in the two years since, getting help recently from other agencies, including the state police and Schenectady County District Attorney’s office.

The information came together recently.

“We were able to tie some things together and tie him to our case,” Peter said.

Raucci was taken back to Schodack to be arraigned. Peter said prosecutors intend to ask that Raucci be held there without bail.

Such a ruling would make Schenectady’s $200,000 bond moot. Such bonds typically require a 10 percent payment to a bondsman, money that is not returned. The rest is covered by property.

Raucci defense attorney Steve Kouray Tuesday morning asked acting Schenectady County Court Judge Polly Hoye to set bond at $50,000.

But prosecutor Ed Moynihan asked for more, arguing that his ties to the community were not strong and that he is suspected of other, similar crimes.

Kouray could not be reached for comment later.

The investigation into those other crimes has intensified, Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said Tuesday.

Since Raucci’s Friday arrest, local police agencies have fielded several calls from people claiming they have information about the case, some with new allegations, Carney said.

“The investigation has really ramped up,” Carney said. “We have a lot of leads to follow up on.”

Indictments in the Schenectady case could come as early as Thursday. A hearing scheduled that day in Rotterdam Town Court would be canceled if indictments are handed up. Details of any indictment, however, may not be made available for some time.

In the Schenectady case, Raucci is accused of detonating a small explosive device beneath the door handle of a Shardon Court residence.

The Raucci family has known difficulties in the past.

Steve Raucci’s father, Joseph Raucci, was sentenced to up to 50 years in state prison for killing his 6-year-old son Chad and trying to kill his estranged wife, Kathie, in June 1985.

Joseph Raucci, who died in prison in 1992 at the age of 75, was convicted of firing into a car at his estranged wife and then hitting her friend. His 6-year-old son was found slumped over the front seat.

Steve Raucci has worked in the Schenectady City School District for 36 years, rising to the post of director of facilities. He was placed on paid administrative leave by the district on Monday.

Authorities said they found an incendiary device on Friday at his Mont Pleasant Middle School office similar to the one used in 2001. Police also seized two computers, $120,000 and three handguns from his home at 1421 Balltown Road, where he lives with his wife.

Carney said authorities are still waiting for laboratory test results on the device found at Raucci’s office. He also said that Raucci did have a weapons permit.

Carney said he is seeking to have that permit suspended or revoked pending prosecution.

In addition, the state Civil Service Employees Association has taken over the local chapter where Raucci had been president.

Capital Region CSEA spokeswoman Therese Assalian said the Schenectady CSEA Local 407 chapter had been placed in “administratorship” on Monday, which means that the state CSEA will take over day-to-day operations of the bargaining unit.

She said the local chapter also has a vice president, treasurer and secretary, but state CSEA believed it was best to step in as a result of the allegations against Raucci.

Assalian believed Raucci has been president since 2001 and receives no salary for the position. She was not aware of any issues at the local chapter. She said the local chapter functions fairly independently, although it receives support from the regional and state organization.

Assalian said it was somewhat unusual — though not unheard of — that Raucci would be union president while holding a management position. “It’s not something we can control or change.”

A message left at the CSEA Local 407 office on Balltown Road was not returned.

As far any past criminal or civil cases against Raucci, the only thing in his file in Niskayuna Town Court was a seat belt ticket case from February 2006. Raucci lived in Scotia before moving to a townhouse in Niskayuna in 1997. Scotia police also said he had no criminal history there.

Some people have continued to question Schenectady school officials about whether students were safe. Spokeswoman Karen Corona said Raucci’s office is located in a suite of offices where students are not allowed to go. There is a security officer stationed at the entrance to that wing and would turn away students who tried to go down that hallway.

She said it is not true that students have to walk by this office to get to the band rooms.

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