Arguments over whether former Schenectady City School District facilities director Steven Raucci — now in prison on arson and vandalism convictions — should have his pension protected against his victims’ lawsuits will be heard by the state’s highest court Jan. 3.
Also, a mid-level court will hear the appeal of his criminal case Feb. 6.
Raucci is serving 23 years to life in the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora after being convicted in March 2010 on 18 charges for detonating explosive devices and vandalizing property of people he perceived as his enemies. He also served as head of the local CSEA union for the workers he supervised yet his activities were also designed to diminish union power, trial testimony indicated.
The state Office of Victim Services is seeking to seize Raucci’s roughly $79,000-a-year pension so the money can be used pay victims if they are successful in lawsuits against Raucci.
A trial-level court ruled in January 2011 that Raucci’s pension was protected under state law. However, the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court reversed that decision in June 2012, ruling that Son of Sam Law took precedence over laws protecting public employee pensions. This law was revised in 2001 and said that victims should know when criminals come into money so they can sue them for damages relating to the crime. Pensions weren’t identified specifically in the legislation, which mentioned gifts, inheritances, lottery winnings, judgments in civil lawsuits and investment income.
The Court of Appeals in September agreed to hear the case on an expedited basis at the request of Raucci’s wife, Shelly, who had said the loss of the pension was a financial hardship.
Raucci’s attorney Alan J. Pierce said there are a lot of significant issues in the case, but did not want to elaborate.
“I look forward to the argument. I think it will be a good process,” he said.
Pierce is also handling the appeal of the criminal case to the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court. Pierce argued in his brief that 14 of the counts Raucci were convicted of should have been tried out of Schenectady County because the crimes didn’t happen in the county. He also challenged the prosecution’s use of a demonstration video and newspaper clippings that were seized and said Raucci’s trial attorney was ineffective.
Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney contested all the claims in his brief, saying the court ruled correctly.
The case was delayed as the court ordered Carney to trim his 100-plus page brief rebutting Pierce’s claims to 70 pages.
Carney was out of the office Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.