The attorney representing alleged arsonist Steven C. Raucci has filed a challenge in state Supreme Court of a lower court judge’s decision denying him bail.
Ronald DeAngelus said Acting Schenectady County Court Judge Polly Hoye on June 18 “abused her discretion” in denying bail to Raucci. Raucci, the former facilities head for the Schenectady City School District, remains in Schenectady County Jail with no bail set.
Acting State Supreme Court Judge Richard Giardino is scheduled to hear the appeal on Thursday.
DeAngelus said Hoye’s denial was a form of “preventive detention” based on hearsay testimony that alleged Raucci is a threat to the community and to himself.
“She did not apply applicable law. There is no law to keep a defendant in jail.” DeAngelus said Hoye could have released Raucci and issued orders of protection barring him from contact with people who provided affidavits alleging he would harm them.
Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney received DeAngelus’ challenge Friday and is continuing to review it. But he said there didn’t appear to be any legal grounds through which Raucci could be released.
“It has been properly decided by Judge Hoye and there’s no grounds to overturn it,” he said.
Hoye made her decision after reading five affidavits privately. She followed this procedure in order to protect the names of the people who signed the affidavits.
Carney provided names of the people to the judge but redacted their names in documents provided to DeAngelus. DeAngelus said Raucci has a constitutional right to know who his accusers are. “We never had an opportunity to know,” he said.
In the court papers, DeAngelus identifies three of the people who signed the affidavits and he said they are all suing Raucci.
In arguing against bail for Raucci, Carney said Raucci is a vindictive, violent person who poses a threat to the community if released and that Raucci threatened to kill himself rather than face incarceration.
Raucci, 60, has been indicted on a host of charges accusing him of arson and terrorism in what authorities described as years of intimidation related to school district and union activities.
Raucci is accused of placing incendiary devices at four homes around the Capital Region, two of which exploded. No one was injured. He is also accused of damaging the homes and cars of people who disagreed with him or whom he perceived as enemies, slashing tires, damaging paint or damaging windshields. One couple reported their car being vandalized five times.
DeAngelus said Raucci has not undergone psychiatric evaluation to test the validity of Carney’s allegations. Raucci is not under a suicide watch and does not have psychiatric counsel.
“This is all based on anonymous baloney,” DeAngelus said.
DeAngelus said Raucci is a decorated Vietnam veteran with no criminal history and who received outstanding employment evaluations. Raucci also has strong ties to the community and does not own a passport, DeAngelus said.
Raucci retired from his school district position after his arrest on March 3. He has been in custody since then.