Schenectady County

Former CSEA head facing charge

The legal futures of two former local union officials tied to the larger Steven Raucci saga went in

The legal futures of two former local union officials tied to the larger Steven Raucci saga went in opposite directions this week, with one being arrested on a burglary charge and another seeing a lawsuit against her summarily dropped.

Joanne DeSarbo, 49, of Schenectady, former president of CSEA Local 847, was arrested Thursday, accused of burglarizing a Schodack home in January 2007. It’s the same home that former union head and alleged arsonist Steven Raucci is accused of trying to bomb that same month.

DeSarbo is accused of burglarizing the home, belonging to another CSEA employee, and taking a gold ring and a tennis bracelet, state police said.

The burglary is alleged to have been personal in nature, Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said. He declined to elaborate, noting that unlike the Raucci allegations, DeSarbo’s case will be prosecuted in Rensselaer County.

DeSarbo was arraigned in Schodack Town Court Thursday evening on one count of second-degree burglary and released on her own recognizance. She is being represented by attorney Kenneth Litz.

State police also declined to say whether DeSarbo’s alleged break-in was before or after Raucci’s alleged Jan. 12, 2007 acts, or whether DeSarbo knew about them.

Schodack Police Chief Bernhard Peter in February characterized Raucci as hitting his target there after “he decided to get involved” and “be helpful.” Peter spoke after Raucci’s arrest. He could not be reached for comment Friday.

Raucci is accused in Schodack of placing a device with a cigarette fuse at the home of CSEA employee Laura Balogh, the same month as DeSarbo is accused of burglarizing the home. The Raucci device did not go off. Balogh has worked in the agency’s health benefits department, newspaper records show.

Meanwhile, another former Local 847 union official, former treasurer Cynthia Chevalier, saw a lawsuit related to her alleged union activities dropped Wednesday.

The state CSEA filed suit last month against Chevalier, Local 847’s longtime treasurer, claiming she refused to turn over requested financial records after suggestions of improprieties.

Through her attorney, Chevalier answered the allegations in papers, saying she was perfectly willing to help get the documents, but that the state CSEA never came to get them.

Then, in February, the documents were handed over to state police investigators, she said. Carney has confirmed investigators reviewed similar documents. He also confirmed Friday that Chevalier is not a criminal target.

Chevalier also filed a countersuit, claiming she was being set up as a scapegoat.

It was Wednesday that both sides officially dropped their claims.

CSEA officials could not be reached for comment. Chevalier was represented by attorney John Hoke. He said the papers spoke for themselves.

Hoke is also representing another figure in the Raucci case, Ronald Kriss. Kriss was one of the first people to publicly blow the whistle on Raucci, filing a federal suit against him early last year.

Raucci was president of the school district’s CSEA unit. The entire Local 847, which represents Schenectady County employees, was placed into administratorship Feb. 23, shortly after Raucci’s initial arrest. The move stripped board members, including DeSarbo and Chevalier, of their titles.

Carney said he would have more to say on any connections between the alleged DeSarbo burglary and Raucci when Raucci’s long-awaited indictment is released, possibly next week.

DeSarbo’s attorney, Litz, declined to comment Friday.

Litz is also the part-time town justice in Rotterdam. Part-time town justices are allowed to have a practice of their own, provided they don’t practice in their home county.

The 60-year-old Raucci, who has since retired from his school post, is suspected in at least a dozen incidents that prosecutors believe can be prosecuted, and others that may simply be too old to prosecute.

He would damage cars of people who simply disagreed with him, slashing tires, damaging paint or blowing windshields out, Carney said previously. One couple reported their car being vandalized five times and said that Raucci had publicly denounced the husband.

Raucci allegedly threatened to kill at least five people. One man told police he was so afraid he attempted suicide.

No one was ever injured, but the possibility was there, officials said. A top-level arson count against Raucci alleges the detonation of an explosive device at the door of an occupied Rotterdam home in 2001.

Raucci remains at the Schenectady County Jail without bail.

Categories: Schenectady County

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