UPDATE: Prosecutor tells Raucci jury — ‘Find him guilty’

The confidential police informant who allegedly taped conversations with Raucci is excoriated by the

The jury hearing the Steven Raucci arson and terrorism case began deliberations at about 5 p.m. today.

The panel could deliberate until as late as 9 tonight, returning in the morning to continue if they do not reach verdicts tonight.

District Attorney Robert Carney, who in his summation revisited the crimes allegedly committed by Raucci, told the jury: “By your verdict, you can tell this lifelong believer in payback that street justice is no substitute for real justice in a court of law. Find him guilty.”

On the vandalism at the home of Laura Balogh in Schodack, where an explosive device was found but did not detonate, Carney said Raucci telegraphed what was to happen by asking others where Schodack was through online map directions.

Carney touched on the evidence pointing to Raucci in the Schodack case, largely circumstantial but powerful.

There were the phone calls, including one from Joanne DeSarbo to Balogh that evening at an hour when DeSarbo rarely called. DeSarbo asked questions designed to ensure no one was at the Balogh home.

The prosecution contends Raucci attacked Balogh’s home on behalf of DeSarbo, his friend and then the president of the Schenectady County Local of the CSEA. Raucci, then the director of facilities for the city school district, was also president of the CSEA local unit that represented the workers he supervised.

DeSarbo had confided in Raucci her unhappiness over the breakup of her relationship with Balogh, according to the prosecution.

There was the light, normally on, that was out when the vandalism was discovered, Carney noted. The only way to turn it out was to go inside. DeSarbo had a key, according to testimony.

Then there was the DNA, which Carney described as circumstantial, found on the cigarette of the Schodack bomb, which experts matched with Raucci’s.

“Is there a stronger piece of evidence in this case?” Carney asked.

Carney also highlighted parts of the recordings made by a police informant in which Raucci said he wasn’t a smoker, meaning someone didn’t simply take a Raucci cigarette and place it on the device to frame him.

It was the Schodack case, and Raucci’s alliance with DeSarbo, that ensured Raucci remained head of the union and free from complaints, the prosecution contends.

DeSarbo was in the position to stop complaints. Regional CSEA head Kathleen Garrison testified that she didn’t hear complaints, Carney noted, something he argued was DeSarbo’s doing.

“Joanne DeSarbo was bought and owned by Steve Raucci,” Carney said. “He bought her support and, in doing so, kept control of the union, his source of power, and his money.”

“For Joanne, it was personal,” Carney said. “For Steve Raucci, it was all business.”

Raucci’s motivations, however, for crimes against Ron Kriss, were personal, Carney contended.

Kriss was pressing a sexual harassment complaint and won a workers’ compensation award from the city school district. Vandalism to Kriss’ property corresponded to dates related to those items.

Carney noted testimony quoting Raucci as hinting of the crime ahead of time, as well as references to them on the informant recordings.

Finally, there was the explosive device in Raucci’s office. Carney cited testimony from employees who worked under Raucci about seeing him with similar devices. He also played parts of the recordings in which Raucci admitted to possessing it and admitted it could be used against others.

Carney played one of the video test explosions taped by the FBI, the one in which a device similar to that allegedly employed by Raucci destroys a cinder block. That device, Carney noted, had 15.9 grams of explosive.

The device in Raucci’s office had 17.2 grams, larger than the one in the video, “and that one was sitting on a file cabinet, in an office in a building full of middle-schoolers.”

Carney ended his closings by replaying Raucci’s philosophy of terrorism from the informant tapes, interspersing quotes from Raucci’s alleged victims’ testimony on how the attacks had affecdted them. They’ve locked their doors, and no longer feel safe in their own homes, they said.

The prosecution contends that Raucci’s alleged crimes were in part aimed at keeping and solidifying his position in the city school district where he held titles that paid him more than $100,000 a year.

Moreover, the prosecution maintains that top school administrators ignored complaints about his workplace and other behavior because Raucci was valuable to them in his dual capacity as facilities supervisor of the school district and president of the union unit that represents the employees he supervised.

In his summation, Carney cited testimony and e-mails that showed Raucci was close to administrators. There was the photo from the “Godfather” movie that Human Resources Director Michael Stricos gave Raucci as well as multiple e-mails to Stricos recounting the times Raucci had put the administration ahead of the union. Assistant Superintendent Michael San Angelo gave Raucci whatever Raucci asked, Carney said.

Superintendent Eric Ely told Raucci in e-mails that Raucci was the one he trusted. Ely also forwarded information about the police investigation of Raucci directly to Raucci.

There were also the 2006 election fliers. After a building principal said he had information that Raucci was using employees to do election work on school time, Ely was told.

Electioneering email

This is the e-mail exchange between Raucci and retired Lincoln Elementary School Principal Alan Zemser. Note the exchange is in reverse order. Click HERE.

“Ely was in on that exchange and did nothing about this. Winning elections was important to the board and the administration wasn’t going to do anything about that, even when a principal says it’s not right,” Carney said.

It was Raucci’s control of the union that made him valuable to the administration, Carney noted.

Challenges to his positions gave him motivation for crimes against Hal and Deborah Gray, as well as Laura Balogh in Schodack, and Gary DiNola in Clifton Park, Carney argued.

Regarding DiNola, Carney noted that Ely was in on that conversation, too, and did nothing.

Carney showed a “very tight timeline” of the e-mails, from the day before the device’s discovery on DiNola’s car to Raucci’s call to another employee asking for DiNola’s address.

Carney noted Raucci could have gotten DiNola’s address somewhere else, but the call served as Raucci’s foreshadowing the events to come, to make sure he got credit. “He wanted people to know and fear him.”

Carney also played portions of a police informant’s recordings of conversations with Raucci in which Raucci boasted that the administration did nothing in response, except to tell DiNola he couldn’t win.

Taped conversations

Conversations between informant Keith McKenna and defendant Steven Raucci were secretly recorded at Raucci’s office at Mont Pleasant Middle School. Some parts of the recordings contain explicit language.

To hear the recording from Feb. 18, 2009, click HERE.

To hear the recording from Dec. 16, 2008, click HERE.

The recording from Dec. 9, 2008 is in four parts.

For part 1, click HERE.

For part 2, click HERE.

For part 3, click HERE.

For part 4, click HERE.

It was DiNola’s case, allegedly committed to stop him from fighting Raucci’s energy policy, that is the basis of the top-level terrorism charge against Raucci.

The boasting about the administration’s response, Carney said, proves the terrorism charge.

“It was about school policy, it was about control of those policies and keeping it in his control,” Carney said.

With the Grays, Raucci saw a challenge to his union leadership. The anonymous letter from January 2005 threatened that and he blamed the Grays.

By May, Raucci had vandalized the Gray’s home, writing “Rat” on their home. It was similar, Carney said, to the January 2007 vandalism at Balogh’s home.

Carney compared the spray-painted “Rat” from the Grays’ home to spray-painted “Cheater” on Balogh’s home. The letters “R,” “A,” and “T” were in similar styles made with single motions.

There was a trip Raucci took his employees on to the Grays’ Saratoga County home in the days after the 2005 vandalism, all on school time.

That act was communicated to administration, Carney noted.

“What did the administration do? They slapped him on the wrist,” Carney said, gesturing to indicate a slap.

“He wanted every one of his workers to see what happens to somebody who was a rat,” Carney said.

Raucci’s defense attorney, meanwhile, tried to keep the jury’s focus on Raucci, and not on the city school district or the CSEA union as he delivered his closing arguments.

Defense lawyer Ronald De Angelus also focused on the alleged misdeeds of the police informant, disgraced ex-Glenville police officer Keith McKenna, and the personal interests of several witnesses as evidenced by their civil lawsuits.

“There may be legitimate gripes against the Schenectady City School District and its leaders, but they don’t belong in this case. There’s nothing in the indictment that points to that type of incident,” De Angelus told the jury.

He cited the case of James “Danny” Bachus, whom Raucci tried to have suspended for 90 days for the crime of challenging Raucci’s union authority. Raucci told Superintendent Eric Ely that Bachus’ life would never be the same, Carney pointed out.

“It makes one wonder what Mr. Bachus had in store for him based on this threat communicated to the superintendent of schools, [Raucci’s] good friend, Eric Ely,” Carney said.

Carney answered charges that such testimony put the focus on the school district, rather than Raucci. It was about the impact Raucci’s positions had on the school district, the students and his workers, the prosecutor said.

“It was really an effect on the entire school district, the kids, the faculty, and most importantly, those people who were forced to work for him under those conditions and the effect on Schenectady by that continued power,” Carney said.

Carney said some of Raucci’s crimes were committed to keep “his tenacious hold” on his power in the school district.

De Angelus said he was appalled by the way Garrison was “attacked by Mr. Carney.”

Carney, he argued, attacked Garrison for not doing more to stop Raucci, citing memos that De Angelus said Garrison never received.

De Angelus turned to informant McKenna.

“But there was not one person in all of law enforcement that did anything about that one-man crime wave Keith McKenna,” De Angelus said. “Not one man did anything at all.” De Angelus referred to McKenna’s allegedly punching Fred Apfel in 1992 when McKenna was an off-duty police officer. Apfel went on to be one of Raucci’s alleged victims.

De Angelus suggested it was McKenna who bombed Apfel’s house.

De Angelus also referred to McKenna’s leaking of confidential license plate information to two men who later used it to terrorize a family in Kinderhook.

McKenna testified he didn’t know what they were using the information for.

But De Angelus also noted that McKenna intentionally botched the investigation into that matter, by alerting the target that McKenna was wired.

“Is it fair for Mr. Carney to attack Kathy Garrison when it appears there’s a different standard for somebody who wears the blue, in this particular case, Keith McKenna?” De Angelus asked.

De Angelus also cited six witnesses who have civil suits pending, including Harold and Deborah Gray, Laura Balogh and James Bachus.

De Angelus tried to cite a sexual harassment lawsuit by Barbara Tidball, but Carney objected and Acting County Court Judge Polly Hoye struck the closing statement from the record.

De Angelus went down a list of the counts against his client, pointing out what he said were reasonable doubts in each, and that there was no witness who saw Raucci do anything. There were also others who had motives that Raucci didn’t have, he said. The victims in several of the crimes didn’t even know Raucci, he noted.

To illustrate his points, De Angelus used Easter eggs, putting one in a plastic bag for each reasonable doubt he saw in the case.

Available spectator space in the courtroom was limited for this morning’s closing arguments.

Court officers have been directing spectators to seating reserved for reporters, the Raucci family and the public.

Raucci’s wife and other relatives are in the courtroom, as they have been throughout most of the trial.

Several of Raucci’s alleged victims, including Hal and Deborah Gray and Laura Balogh, also are present.

Raucci is accused of vandalizing the Grays’ property on multiple occasions, after accusing them of writing an anonymous letter to CSEA complaining about his dual role as a supervisory employee of the city school district but also president of the CSEA local unit representing workers he supervised.

Raucci is accused of numerous counts of criminal mischief and felony charges of arson and terrorism over incidents of vandalism and detonation of explosive devices at homes and on vehicles over a period of years. Authorities say Raucci attacked the homes and vehicles of people he perceived as enemies or enemies of his friends.

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