Former city schools director of facilities Steven Raucci was indicted Wednesday on 26 counts, including terrorism and arson charges, one dating back to 1993.
Among the 26 allegations are two counts of first-degree arson and one count of terrorism, all top-level felonies carrying maximum sentences of 25 years to life in state prison upon conviction.
Two of the charges relate to incidents already disclosed — placing a bomb that exploded at a Rotterdam home in 2001 and one at a Clifton Park home in 2006 that failed to detonate.
The newest first-degree arson count relates to a 16-year-old case from Glenville.
Raucci, 60, of Niskayuna, is accused of placing an explosive device on a picture window at a Willow Lane home in Glenville on April 10, 1993. The device exploded, shattering the window.
The indictment covers a total of 14 separate incidents, Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said.
The charges cover allegations ranging from attempted coercion through threats involving school union matters, to having school employees purchase deck stain for his personal use.
He is also accused of possessing stolen night-vision goggles at his home at the time of his arrest and an explosive device at his office in Mont Pleasant Middle School. The explosive device was previously disclosed, but the indictment confirms that tests on it showed that it was live.
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Raucci is also accused of conspiring with another person to damage a Schodack home in January 2007. The allegations of a conspiracy are new and include phone calls and coordination of the attack to ensure the resident wasn’t home, Carney said.
Carney confirmed the allegations were that Raucci and one other person conspired. He declined to name the other person.
However, Joanne DeSarbo, a fellow former union official with Raucci, was charged last month with burglarizing the same Schodack home during the same time frame.
“The work of the grand jury continues in this matter,” Carney said. “I expect them to continue examining the issues in this case.” The grand jury has already met 14 times since Raucci’s Feb. 20 arrest, hearing from 43 witnesses, Carney said. A total of 101 exhibits have also been viewed.
Carney credited the state police Special Investigations Unit, Rotterdam police and other departments with helping get the case this far.
Raucci himself remains at the Schenectady County Jail, held without bail. Fears of witness intimidation, along with flight concerns, prompted a protracted battle to keep him behind bars after his arrest.
Allegations against Raucci have included a campaign to gain and retain power over others, settling scores by bombing residences and damaging cars of those who disagreed with him. He even got involved in disputes involving others, Carney has said.
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.
Alleged victims of each incident are not named in the indictment. However, several of the alleged acts occurred at residences with specific addresses.
Former district employee Ronald Kriss can be identified as one of the victims through papers filed in his own federal lawsuit against the district and Raucci. Kriss was one of the first people to make allegations against Raucci.
County property records suggest one of the other victims was former city schools employee Harold Gray, who was previously identified as a Raucci target in a federal affidavit filed by Kriss in his federal suit.
Another, the victim connected to the terrorism count, was identified in county records, as well as previous court records, as former district athletic director Gary DiNola.
Raucci attempted to bomb the residence linked to DiNola, Carney said, “to cement power and control in the Schenectady school district.”
Raucci is to be arraigned on the new charges Monday in Schenectady County Court. His attorney Ronald DeAngelus said Wednesday Raucci will plead innocent to each.
DeAngelus criticized the indictment, calling it “weak” and the charges “hard to prove.”
“It took three months, almost, to get the grand jury indictment,” DeAngelus said. “Imagine how difficult it will be to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.”
DeAngelus also said he will renew Raucci’s bail application now that the indictment has been handed up.
Carney, however, said if anything the 26-count felony indictment increases the seriousness of the situation for Raucci.
Acting Schenectady County Court Judge Polly Hoye has already ruled on bail, Carney noted. “I see nothing in this indictment that would cause her to reconsider.”
Regarding the device found in Raucci’s school district office, Carney described it as similar to the devices used in the other bombings or attempts. The indictment alleges that Raucci not only possessed the device, but intended to use it against another person. Carney declined to elaborate.
Superintendent Eric Ely called the new information concerning.
“The fact is, you hire teachers and employees, we have 1,800 employees, you trust them to make good decisions, do the right thing and not put kids in danger,” Ely said. “If somebody does something like that, that certainly violates the trust we had in them and the community had in them and we’re not happy about that.”
Regarding the allegations of misuse of district funds to purchase deck stain, a quick check of records Wednesday uncovered no obvious paper trail, Ely said.
Raucci is accused of sending a school district work crew to buy deck stain in April and May 2007 and telling them to charge it to the district. The stain was used for his own personal deck and that of a neighbor, Carney said.
Ely said that will now be part of the district’s own independent internal investigation into Raucci and his dealings in the district. The district investigation is separate from the criminal venture.
“We will look for any kind of misuse of funds or illegal expenditures that don’t have the proper signatures or that we’re not able to trace or make heads or tails of,” Ely said.
Raucci is also accused of possessing stolen night-vision goggles at his home the day of his arrest. Carney did not indicate from whom they were stolen, or how they might have been used.
In the 1993 Glenville case, Raucci allegedly bombed the home and the family’s car, Carney said. Only charges related to the home could be lodged, Carney said. First-degree arson, charged when people are present in the target home, has no statute of limitations.
Carney declined to say how the Glenville home was connected to Raucci, saying only the alleged animosity was personal rather than school-related.
County property records showed the residence was owned from 1979 to 2003 by Frederick E. and Judith A. Apfel.
The town of Ballston residence owned by Harold Gray was Raucci’s alleged target on May 1, 2005, June 28, 2008, and even Feb. 16, 2009, four days before Raucci was arrested. The home and vehicles were the targets.
The May 1, 2005, date coincides with Kriss’ federal affidavit, where he alleged Raucci called a meeting of the district Operations and Maintenance Department May 2, 2005, and made sure that everyone knew that Gray’s home had been vandalized.
At that time, Kriss alleged in the papers, Raucci was engaged in a CSEA dispute with Gray’s wife, who was a member of the union.
Connected to those counts, Carney said, is alleged car vandalism Aug. 10, 2007, at the Desmond Inn in Colonie and alleged attempted coercion in June 2007 at the county office building. Raucci threatened the victim in June 2007 with continued property damage if he didn’t remove himself from union activities, Carney said.
Raucci was president of the school district 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 Raucci, of their titles.
One of Raucci’s alleged victims, in an affidavit filed previously by Carney, said that after repeated vandalism and threats he was more scared of Raucci than he was during two tours in Vietnam. The man’s name and information were blacked out in the filing.
“I don’t sleep well,” the man said. “Any time I hear a noise I think that it’s Steve attempting to break in or him trying to place explosives on my home or car.”
The man had a closed-circuit surveillance system installed after damage was done to his truck on June 28, 2008, the same date charged in the indictment related to the home owned by Gray.
A message left with Gray on Wednesday was not returned.
In Schodack, Raucci is accused of conspiring with an unnamed other individual to damage the home of Laura Balogh, a fellow CSEA employee.
The conspiracy included phone calls to discuss and plan the crime, Carney said, including a phone call to the victim to determine her whereabouts and absence from the home, and use of the online mapping Web site Mapquest to get directions.
The home was spray painted and an explosive device left, Carney said. The device did not go off.
DeSarbo, former president of CSEA Local 847, was charged in Rensselaer County last month with burglarizing the home, the same day Raucci is accused of trying to blow it up.
She is accused of taking a white gold diamond tennis bracelet from the home, approximately 2 carats in weight, and a diamond ring containing five diamonds, according to papers filed in Schodack court.
The charges were based on police investigation and statements made by DeSarbo to state police March 31, while in the presence of her attorney, according to papers.
DeSarbo is represented by attorney Kenneth Litz. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
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Categories: Schenectady County