Schenectady County

Day 4: Carney details allegations against Raucci (with documents)

In the winter of 1993, Steven Raucci believed a friend was owed money. Raucci stepped in to help out

In the winter of 1993, Steven Raucci believed a friend was owed money. Raucci stepped in to help out and the results were immediate.

The help Raucci offered, according to Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney, was placing an explosive device on the home of the debtor and detonating it.

“The mission succeeded, the friend got the money that was owed to him by the victim,” Carney said in a final pretrial hearing Thursday in Schenectady County Court. “That became a positive reinforcement for him in the future.”

In the final hearing, as well as in related documents, Carney provided more detail into Raucci’s alleged motivations, how he got his start and the city school district administrators who allegedly looked the other way.

Raucci case documents

Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney asked the judge to allow alleged incidents involving Steven Raucci at Thursday’s pretrial hearing. To read the documents, click HERE and HERE.

Carney also alleges that current Superintendent Eric Ely specifically looked the other way when Athletic Director Gary DiNola’s vehicle had an explosive placed on it in November 2006.

The explosive was placed on the vehicle the day after Raucci had a dispute with DiNola over school facilities, Carney wrote.

“Superintendent Eric Ely, who was well aware of the dispute, was informed of the attack and never conducted any investigation nor did anything to try and determine if it was related to the defendant,” Carney wrote.

Raucci, 61, of Niskayuna, is standing trial on an indictment containing 26 criminal counts ranging from criminal mischief to major felonies of arson and terrorism.

He is charged with four separate bombings or attempted bombings. The alleged winter 1993 incident is not among the charges. Neither are other alleged incidents involving Raucci and explosives cited at the hearing Thursday before Acting Schenectady County Court Judge Polly Hoye. Raucci repeatedly threw explosive devices from moving vehicles, according to the allegations, with the devices exploding on the pavement in front of cars behind him.

In the indictment, he is accused of planting similar bombs, vandalizing homes and cars and intimidating people he perceived as enemies over a period of years with the goal of currying favor with higher-ups and solidifying his power in the school district. Besides acting as director of facilities, he was also president of the CSEA union local representing the employees he supervised.

Raucci allegedly placed incendiary devices at four homes around the Capital Region. Two of the devices exploded. No one was injured.

The favors Raucci sought, according to the allegations, included job promotion, which he received, and lucrative overtime opportunities.

Job promotions

Those promotions came despite a disciplinary history checkered with allegations he used district vehicles for personal use, according to Carney, who is prosecuting the case.

The allegations are also enough, Carney said, for one prior superintendent to say he would have never promoted Raucci, given his history. Carney did not name that superintendent, but three superintendents are on the prosecution’s witness list: current superintendent Ely; John Falco, superintendent from 2001 to 2005; and Ray Coluciello, the superintendent immediately before Falco.

Raucci was elected president of the bargaining unit representing the workers he supervised in 2001; by 2003, he was head utility worker, overseeing more than 100 employees.

Carney said he also wanted to question those who promoted Raucci. “Their decision to put him in power and keep him in power was something that he relied upon in order to commit these crimes.”

Raucci’s defense attorney, Ronald De Angelus, argued the disciplinary incidents were too old and too minor. De Angelus also said his client denies the other explosive accusations leveled by Carney.

Hoye agreed with De Angelus on the disciplinary matters, largely barring their use.

But Hoye allowed other alleged incident references. In one, Raucci, then in the Saratoga County Jail after his February 2009 arrest, allegedly told fellow inmate Barry McDonough that an “old friend” had worn a wire on him and also told the inmate, “that’s all right, he has no idea of who he is dealing with.”

Several of the uncharged allegations involving explosives will be allowed as evidence, including the winter 1993 bombing.

Carney gave a glimpse into points he will make during the trial — like how Raucci ran the facilities department and how his actions affected the policies and procedures of the school district.

In one example, Raucci had a personal dispute with district plumber Robert Nunamacher, but couldn’t fire him because of civil service protection.

“In concert with the school administration, the defendant concocted a faulty premise that the facilities department was overstaffed, and had no need for plumbers,” Carney wrote.

But to get to Nunamacher, another plumber, John Butkus also had to be laid off. Within months, two others, David Ralston Jr. and Mark Clute, were hired to perform the exact same duties. Raucci would often repeat the story of Nunamacher and Butkus’ fates to others as evidence of his power, Carney wrote.

Carney also repeated earlier allegations that, as union president, Raucci directed his employees and union members to work on school board elections and budget votes.

“The defendant’s ‘value’ to the administration and school board was directly tied to his ability to influence elections,” Carney wrote.

With that value came protection, Carney wrote. In 2006, Alan Zemser, principal of Lincoln Elementary School, complained when he learned a custodian had been removed by Raucci to work on an election.

“The defendant gave contradictory versions of what he was doing and whether he was paid for it and administrators did nothing,” Carney wrote.

“This protection from the administration only emboldened the defendant to engage in the illegal acts with which he is charged,” Carney added.

Alleged bombing

An example of that, Carney wrote, was the attempted bombing of then-athletic director DiNola’s car in November 2006 and Ely’s subsequent non-response.

In the winter 1993 case, Carney identified Raucci’s friend as David Kowalski and the homeowner where the explosive was placed as Kenneth Legere. Both are expected to testify at the trial.

Legere had taken a $3,000 down payment to install cabinets for Kowalski, but declared bankruptcy and couldn’t install the cabinets or refund the money.

Raucci allegedly told his friend Kowalski that he “would take care of it.” Legere returned the money after the bombing.

Within months of that incident, Carney alleges, Raucci was at it again, this time detonating a bomb at the home of another man in another dispute with one of Raucci’s friends.

Then, on April 10, 1993, Raucci detonated a device at the home of Fred Apfel on Willow Lane in Glenville, according to the prosecutor. Raucci detonated the device, Carney alleges in papers, because Apfel had filed a complaint against another of Raucci’s friends. Carney did not identify the friend in that incident.

The friend had gotten into a physical altercation with Apfel and Apfel filed a complaint with the friend’s unnamed employer.

However, the friend became the prime suspect in the bombing because of the prior clash. To divert attention from the friend, Raucci detonated another device on Apfel’s car two months later, on June 5, 1993, when the friend was out of the country on vacation, Carney said. That bombing was not charged, because the statute of limitations had been exceeded.

Carney is using the earlier case to show Raucci’s familiarity with and use of explosives to settle scores.

So far unidentified is the informant who wore a wire to record Raucci in late 2008 and early 2009 when Raucci allegedly admitted to several incidents, including an August 2001 Rotterdam bombing.

Raucci also allegedly admitted to the winter 1993 attack, calling it the one that “will always stand out the most.”

“The bombing of Legere’s home provided the defendant a blueprint for attacking a victim and quickly getting the desired result,” Carney wrote. “Therefore, when the defendant decided to attack Apfel, he chose to follow every detail of that blueprint specifically because it had been so ‘successful.’ ”

Carney is also trying to counter any arguments that Raucci’s alleged admissions to the informant were just someone taking credit for someone else’s crimes that were commonly known to the public.

Further allegations

The winter 1993 case, Carney wrote, was reported to the Scotia Police Department, but not in the local media. Also, all police records of the more than 15-year-old incident have since been destroyed.

Regarding other alleged uses of explosives, Carney offered a series of incidents where Raucci allegedly threw similar devices from moving vehicles. In one, he allegedly damaged a school district vehicle then covered it up by parking the vehicle with others, then damaging them to make it look like random vandalism.

In the recorded conversations with the informant, Raucci presented the informant with a device stored in Raucci’s office. Raucci allegedly told the informant the device was his last one. He had tossed another one from his vehicle window on Troy-Schenectady Road.

On Feb. 7, 2009, two weeks before his arrest, Raucci allegedly threw the device from his moving truck while being followed by David Dutcher and Joanne Puleski. Dutcher is listed as a school district employee.

A district maintenance employee, Mark Coluccio, is expected to testify he routinely washed and cleaned the pickup truck driven by Raucci and that he had spotted devices in the truck similar to the one found in Raucci’s office by police and those left at scenes in Schodack and Clifton Park.

Collucio was also to testify that he was driving on Nott Street in fall 2008 behind Raucci, when Raucci threw a similar device out of his vehicle and it exploded in the street.

Others were to testify about similar incidents. However, Hoye barred all but the Feb. 7, 2009, alleged incident.

In one of the incidents Hoye would not allow, Coluccio was to testify that Raucci admitted to him that he had ignited a device, intending to toss it from the school district vehicle he was driving, but the device exploded inside the vehicle, causing damage.

“The defendant then admitted intentionally damaging several other parked cars on the street,” Carney wrote, “and parking his vehicle next to them.”

The aim, Carney said, was to make it look like random vandalism.

Categories: Schenectady County

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