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Battle shaping up over Raucci request for bail, release

Battle shaping up over Raucci request for bail, release

The attorney for suspended city school official and alleged arsonist Steve Raucci will make another

The attorney for suspended city school official and alleged arsonist Steve Raucci will make another bid for his release on Monday.

Raucci, accused of planting explosives in three counties, is scheduled to appear in Schenectady County Court at 9 a.m. Monday.

His attorney, Ronald DeAngelus, is to argue that he should be released on as little as $25,000 bail.

Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office officials are expected to oppose that bid, asking he be held without bail.

DeAngelus noted on Thursday that Raucci has already put up a $200,000 bond.

“This would make it $225,000. That’s almost a quarter of a million dollars and this guy’s got no criminal record,” DeAngelus said.

What began with a top-level first-degree arson count on Feb. 20 has grown to a list of a half-dozen counts against Raucci.

He is accused of planting explosive devices in Rotterdam, Schodack and Clifton Park in 2001, 2006 and 2007. He allegedly did so to settle scores, prosecutors said.

Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney confirmed Thursday that prosecutors will again be seeking to hold Raucci on no bail. However, he chose to wait until Monday to make his arguments.

Prosecutors have argued that the lengthening list of charges against Raucci make him a flight risk. Prosecutors have also said witnesses have expressed fear of reprisals should Raucci be freed pending trial.

An initial county court bail hearing Feb. 24 resulted in a bond set at $200,000. Raucci had the bond posted by the end of the day, setting off a weeklong cross-region jail tour for the suspended city schools director of facilities.

Prosecutors chose not to have preliminary hearings in Schodack and Clifton Park, forcing his release on the charges pending there. Raucci, however, never saw freedom as he was swept up again on new charges, the latest a top-level terrorism count.

In his bail application, DeAngelus included copies of each of the charges against his client: one count each of first-degree arson, first-degree attempted arson, third-degree criminal mischief, first-degree criminal possession of a weapon, third-degree attempted arson and terrorism.

DeAngelus argues that the 60-year-old Raucci, a Niskayuna resident, has lived in the area all his life and has no criminal history. He has been employed with the school district for 36 years. DeAngelus also describes Raucci as the former union president of a chapter of Local 847 of the CSEA.

As director of facilities, he “is responsible for the health, safety and security” in 21 schools with a staff of 110. With overtime, he makes more than $100,000 annually. (District records show the 2008 figure at more than $129,000.)

He’s been married for 17 years and lived at 1421 Balltown Road in Niskayuna for 12 years. His wife and daughter have attended several court appearances in support.

Based on those factors, DeAngelus argued that cash bail of $25,000 or a bond of $50,000 would be reasonable to ensure his appearance.

He said Thursday bail shouldn’t reflect the amount of time someone faces but would be required to ensure appearance in court.

“The only reason bail is in existence is to make sure you appear,” he said. “It has nothing to do with the possible sentence.”

Prosecutors have also expressed fear Raucci might harm himself should he be released. When he initially entered the Schenectady County Jail, medical personnel recommended constant supervision, or suicide watch, Acting Sheriff Gordon Pollard said. Upon his return to the facility on the terrorism count, the level of watch was relaxed to every 15 minutes, or “active supervision.”

Raucci has not been a problem since his return to jail on Tuesday, Pollard said. He is currently scheduled for visiting hours Wednesdays and Sundays. He received no visitors at his first opportunity Wednesday.

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