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School official charged in explosion incident

School official charged in explosion incident

Stephen Raucci, the Schenectady City School District’s head of facilities, was arrested Friday for a

Stephen Raucci, the Schenectady City School District’s head of facilities, was arrested Friday for allegedly detonating an explosive device by the front door of a Rotterdam residence eight years ago.

Raucci, 60, was charged with first-degree arson in Rotterdam Town Court Friday afternoon and ordered held without bail over the weekend. Rotterdam police Lt. Michael Brown declined to elaborate on the arrest, but said further charges could be forthcoming.

“There are the possibility of other ones,” he said.

Investigators believe Raucci fastened an M-80 firecracker or a quarter-stick of dynamite beneath the door handle of an occupied Shardon Court residence in August 2001. The device was set off during the early morning hours and caused extensive damage to the front entryway of the residence.

Police recovered a note from the scene that stated “we hate you and your grievances” and “you may be a tough guy with women, let’s see how tough you are with men.” A number of police officers own homes on Shardon Court.

Both investigators and the homeowners believed the explosive device was likely left at the wrong home.

State police investigators led Raucci away from the school administration’s offices in handcuffs Friday morning. Authorities said they executed a search warrant at Raucci’s Balltown Road residence and his district office, where they recovered a small explosive device, among other things.

Superintendent Eric Ely wouldn’t confirm Raucci’s arrest, but acknowledged the district is aware of criminal allegations against an employee at the school. He said the district takes any allegation seriously and would take any appropriate disciplinary action if it became necessary.

“The Schenectady City School District is aware of allegations of a potentially criminal nature against one of our employees,” he said in a statement. “We have not been apprised of any specific charges and we are not aware of the validity of these allegations.”

Raucci is employed as the school’s head utility worker and is paid $79,297 a year, according to the district. The 36-year veteran employee also serves as president of the district’s local CSEA chapter.

When asked if Raucci is being disciplined by the school, district spokeswoman Karen Corona declined to discuss the matter. She said he is still a full-time employee at the district.

“We don’t share whether or not any employee is being disciplined,” she said.

Raucci did not return calls to his office Friday afternoon. His secretary later directed calls from The Daily Gazette to the superintendent’s office.

Calls placed to Stephen Kouray, Raucci’s attorney, and Schenectady school board president Jeff Janiszewski were not returned Friday. Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney declined to comment on the case prior to a news conference today.

Raucci, meanwhile, is the focus of an ongoing federal lawsuit filed against the district. Former school custodial supervisor Ronald Kriss is seeking $8 million in damages from the district, claiming Raucci taunted him because he suffers from irritable bowel syndrome and an anxiety disorder.

Kriss, who was employed at the school from August 1998 through October 2006, claims Raucci made demeaning comments about his conditions that eventually forced him to take medical leave. He later requested a reassignment to work under a different supervisor, but was denied and ultimately fired for not returning to work.

Investigators are continuing to probe the case and charges could be lodged in other jurisdictions throughout the Capital Region. State police believe there could be other incidents of vandalism, intimidation and attempted use of explosive devices similar to the one in Rotterdam.

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