Hal Gray had just learned an anonymous letter had been sent to the CSEA offices attempting to blow the whistle on alleged misdeeds by Steven Raucci in January 2005 when he went to Raucci.
Gray had received a copy of the letter and took it straight to Raucci.
“With Steve, you didn’t want to be perceived as hiding anything,” Gray testified this morning in Schenectady County Court where Raucci is on trial on multiple criminal charges ranging from criminal mischief to weighty felonies of arson and terrorism.
“It was a courtesy, more or less, to let him know,” Gray said.
Within an hour, Raucci announced that he knew who wrote the letter. He said it was Gray’s wife Deborah.
Gray questioned why Gray would give Raucci the letter, if Gray’s wife wrote it. Raucci didn’t care.
An angry Raucci responded “‘I’ve got to deal with it’ and he walked out,” Gray testified.
It was that letter, prosecutors contend, that helped touch off four years of threats and vandalism against the Grays allegedly committed by Raucci.
At the time, Raucci was the Schenectady City School District’s facilities director as well as president of the union local that represented employees supervised by Raucci.
After the letter incident, Gray, then a pool operator with the school district, was banished from morning staff meetings. Raucci also made menacing statements, Gray testified.
Then, on the morning of May 1, 2005, the Grays woke up to find their Saratoga County home had been spray-painted with red paint, along with both their vehicles. The word “rat” was painted in several places. The cost to repair the damages was estimated at $30,000.
Saratoga County sheriff’s officials investigated, and actually talked to Raucci, but didn’t have enough to file charges.
The May 2005 incident was one of five that Raucci is accused of commiting against the Grays.
Gray was back on the witness stand this afternoon.
He testified about four separate incidents of vandalism against to their property, that caused nearly $40,000 in total damage.
An estimated $30,000 of that occurred in an single incident at the Grays’ home May 1, 2005.
There were other incidents of car vandalism, in August 2007 and June 2008, and more home vandalism in February 2009. In one, a car was scratched and its tires punctured. In the others, paint was poured on either Gray’s truck or house.
In June 2007, Gray told of an encounter with Raucci where Raucci told Gray that “all this” could go away, if Gray left Joanne DeSarbo, then the county CSEA local president, alone and if he got out of town. Gray didn’t respond.
After the June 2008 incident at the Grays’ home, where Gray’s truck was spray-painted, Gray said he found a note that read “#2 quit the union and leave joanne alone” in all lower case letters.
By the February 2009 incident, the Grays had a surveillance system costing nearly $3,000 at their home. That system, however, only caught a shadowy figure in a coat and hood running to their front door with what appeared to be a paint can and running away.
Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney, who is prosecuting Raucci, asked Gray how the incidents have affected him and his wife.
“It’s just been very trying and tiresome and stressful,” Gray said. It’s been especially tough on his wife, he said. She goes to therapy once a week.
“She handled some of it quite well initially,” Gray said. “But as time wore on, and it wasn’t going away, it became more traumatic.”
Gray was expected to testify to a close relationship he and his wife had with DeSarbo, the former county CSEA president.
It was on behalf of DeSarbo that Raucci allegedly spray-painted the Schodack home of a woman with whom DeSarbo had had a bad breakup.
DeSarbo allegedly relayed to the Grays that she had “spilled her guts” to Raucci in the aftermath of the 2006 breakup. She also told the Grays that Raucci told her she had a “special place” in his heart and that he’d “take care of things.” Gray says he then responded, “You’re crazy, he will own you.”
Carney convinced Judge Polly Hoye to allow the conversation in evidence because DeSarbo is alleged to be a Raucci co-conspirator in the January 2007 attempted bombing of the Schodack house.
Carney argued that Deborah Gray is to testify to further conversations with DeSarbo later in the week. The woman who broke up with DeSarbo, Laura Balogh, is also to testify that DeSarbo called her the evening of the attempted bombing, asking if anyone was home.
DeSarbo faces a felony burglary count from around the same time as the attempted bombing. However, she may not testify, Carney indicated, noting that she has an attorney.
After Gray’s testimony, the prosecution called Barbara Tidball, a messenger for the school district. She was the alleged recipient of sexually harassing memo sent by Raucci and she is among those suing or trying to sue the school district.
No mention of the memo was made in court. Tidball testified that Raucci often railed against the Grays in the office. She also testified that Raucci admitted to her he committed the final Gray vandalism act, saying he didn’t want anybody else taking credit for his work.
Next up is Steve Boynton, assistant athletic director for the school district.