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What you need to know for 09/26/2017

Appellate Division: Raucci must stay in jail until his trial

Appellate Division: Raucci must stay in jail until his trial

Accused arsonist Steven Raucci, the former head of facilities for the Schenectady City School Distri

Former Schenectady city schools facilities director Steven Raucci, accused of terrorism and other counts involving school district employees and others, will remain in jail pending trial, an appellate court ruled today.

The Appellate Division of state Supreme court rejected arguments by his attorneys that Raucci was improperly ordered held without bail as a preventive measure.

The court noted that the record reflects that Schenectady County Court considered the relevant factors, including Raucci’s character, reputation and the seriousness of his alleged crimes.

“We cannot say that County Court abused its ‘sole nonreviewable discretion’ in denying petitioner bail,” the appellate court ruled. “Nor do we find that County Court violated petitioner’s constitutional protection against arbitrary refusal of bail.”

The ruling means Raucci will remain in jail without bail to await his trial, which is not expected until April. That would also mean he’ll have spent more than a year in jail by the time the trial begins.

Raucci was first arrested on Feb. 20 on an arson count. Charges against him have since multiplied to more than two dozen, including another serious arson count and a charge of terrorism.

Raucci, 61, of Niskayuna, is accused of placing explosive devices at four houses around the Capital Region. Two of the devices exploded, but no one was injured. He is also accused of damaging the 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.

Many of the alleged victims had ties to the Schenectady City School District or the CSEA union. Raucci was head of Local 847 of the union.

His appellate attorney, Cynthia Feathers, argued in October that lower courts illegally ordered Raucci held without bail.

She argued the law was clear that defendants can’t be held to prevent them from committing future crimes. She argued that was the basis of Raucci’s being held without bail to await trial on allegations of terrorism and arson.

Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney countered, however, that this was not preventive detention, it was protecting witnesses. Raucci explicitly threatened two witnesses, both alleged repeat victims of his, and said he would kill himself before he ever did a day in jail, Carney said.

There is also a great risk that Raucci would flee, or kill himself, if he is freed on bail, Carney told the judges. The defendant is 61 years old and with evidence in hand, including DNA evidence, the likelihood of conviction is high.

The bail case went before the Appellate Division after a series of lower court rulings denying Raucci bail.

Acting Schenectady County Court Judge Polly Hoye ordered Raucci held without bail. Raucci appealed that decision to the state Supreme Court in Schenectady County, arguing in July that the first judge was arbitrary in her decision denying bail.

A state Supreme Court judge upheld the lower court’s ruling, prompting the appeal to the Appellate Division.

Raucci‘s criminal defense attorney, Ronald DeAngelus, argued that Raucci wasn’t given a proper hearing on the matter to confront key witnesses whose testimony prosecutors used to help keep Raucci behind bars pending trial.

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