DNA taken from an explosive device Steven Raucci is accused of leaving at a Schodack home matches that taken from Raucci himself, Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said Monday.
A state police investigator trailed Raucci in the weeks leading up to Raucci’s February arrest, seizing a fork Raucci used at a Chrisler Avenue diner.
DNA from the handle of that fork was tested and matched that taken from a cigarette used as a failed fuse at the attempted Schodack bombing, Carney said. The cigarette was lighted, but went out before it could ignite the device in the January 2007 incident.
Carney spoke after Raucci’s morning arraignment on a 26-count indictment, which includes allegations of first-degree arson and terrorism.
Raucci, the former city schools director of facilities, pleaded innocent to each count.
Carney was prepared to ask Acting Schenectady County Court Judge Polly Hoye to compel Raucci to submit DNA directly, a routine procedure to confirm earlier results. But Raucci attorney Ronald DeAngelus consented to have his client submit a sample.
DeAngelus said later that Carney could perform all the tests he wanted. DeAngelus called the case weak.
“It’s a case full of exaggerations. That’s what it is,” DeAngelus said outside the Schenectady County Courthouse, “including tossing around words like ‘a quarter stick of dynamite.’ There’s no dynamite in this case.”
DeAngelus was apparently referring to wording in court papers filed previously in connection with an alleged 2006 attempted bombing in Clifton Park. Papers in that case called the device an “M-100,” likening it to a “quarter stick of dynamite.”
The target of the Clifton Park case has been identified as retired city schools athletic director Gary DiNola and it is that case that is linked to the terrorism charge against Raucci.
DeAngelus called the M-100 a firecracker.
Carney, however, said there were no firecrackers in the case.
“These are devices that are explosive devices intended to damage when they go off,” Carney said. “That’s what they do. They are potentially lethal devices.”
There were never reports of injuries.
Paperwork filed Monday with the DNA request further characterizes the devices as “cardboard canisters” containing explosive substances. Carney later called the devices “illegally manufactured” and not commercially available.
Raucci has been accused of years of intimidation related to school district and union activities. The length and depth of the allegations have themselves spawned questions as to what others inside the school district may have known. Earlier papers filed by Carney have alleged some school officials were “beholden” to Raucci.
Raucci is accused of damaging cars and homes of people who disagreed with him, slashing tires, damaging paint or damaging windshields. One couple reported their car being vandalized five times and said that Raucci had publicly denounced the husband.
A grand jury continues to investigate the matter.
Raucci is accused of using four similar explosive devices, once each in Glenville, Rotterdam, Clifton Park and Schodack, in 1993, 2001, 2006 and 2007, respectively. He is also accused of possessing a fifth similar device in his school district office at Mont Pleasant Middle School at the time of his February arrest.
The devices found in Clifton Park, Schodack and in Raucci’s Mont Pleasant Middle School office are all now in the hands of the FBI, according to Monday’s court filing. It was not known if DNA could be pulled from them, all believed to have been handled by Raucci.
The filing also gives some insight into the investigation into Raucci’s alleged activities, a probe in which Raucci was a target for at least six months before his February arrest.
It was Aug. 28 that state police investigator Peter Minahan took Raucci’s fork from Sally’s Street Side Cafe on Chrisler Avenue. Raucci left the fork behind on a table. Minahan had Raucci under surveillance, specifically looking for samples of DNA.
DNA taken from the handle of the fork was termed consistent with that taken from the failed Schodack cigarette fuse.
The results now must be confirmed by a sample taken from Raucci directly, something that DeAngelus consented to. The sample was to be taken from a swab of Raucci’s cheek.
DeAngelus also said he intends to renew Raucci’s bail application. Raucci, 60, of Niskayuna, has been held without bail since his Feb. 20 arrest.
Carney said his office will continue to oppose bail. Bail was the reason for a weeklong whirlwind tour of Capital Region courts after Raucci’s arrest, as prosecutors attempted to keep him in custody, fearing reprisals against witnesses or that Raucci would injure himself.
The bail hearing could happen later this week.
The grand jury has already met 14 times to reach Raucci’s 26-count indictment. Carney noted the volume of testimony in court, saying scheduled motion dates may be missed. Only one of those 14 sessions has been transcribed. Grand jury sessions are typically among the subjects of the motions.
DeAngelus later used the indictment to show the weak case against his client. The indictment includes the terrorism count, which could bring 25 years to life in state prison upon conviction, and a count of falsifying business records, linked to allegations Raucci used deck stain purchased by the school district for his personal deck and then tried to cover it up.
“It’s ridiculous,” DeAngelus said. “One count is terrorism, another is taking paint.”
Carney responded by saying the indictment, all 26 counts as felonies, speaks for itself.