SCHENECTADY, N.Y. -- Steven Raucci, the former Schenectady schools employee who was convicted of vandalism and setting off explosives in attempts to intimidate those he perceived as enemies, will spend at least 23 years in prison.
The 23 year term could be a virtual life sentence for the 61-year old Raucci.
Judge Polly Hoye handed down the sentence in Schenectady County Court shortly after noon Tuesday. In it, Raucci will serve 23 years on an arson charge, as well as a concurrent 15 year sentence for criminal possession of a weapon and another concurrent sentence, 1 to 3 years, for coercion.
In addition, he will have to pay $5,200 in restitution to 4 of his victims.
Raucci was convicted back in April on 18 of the 22 counts against him, including arson and conspiracy. Prosecutors argued that he orchestrated years of intimidation and harassment as the Director of Facilities and union boss for the Schenectady City School District, including planting pipe bombs at the homes of his adversaries.
During sentencing, defense attorney Robert DeAngelus unsuccessfully petitioned to have 12 of the 18 counts against Raucci overturned. DeAngelus contested those 12 were from incidents that happened outside of Schenectady County and should not count. Judge Hoye disagreed.
Sporting a newly-shaved head, Raucci sat emotionless throughout the entire proceedings, including when Judge Hoye delivered his fate and victim impact statements were read.
One of the victims, Laura Balogh, cried as she recalled the attacks on her family she said were at the hands of Raucci.
"(Our) healing hasn't begun," Balogh told the court as she described the trauma and fear her children went through.
She said, "My children now have to live with the memory of our home being destroyed."
Debbie Gray, another victim, claimed Raucci was a "sick individual" who was always jealous of her husband. She claimed Raucci had a total disregard for human life.
According to her statement, Gray said Raucci tortured her family for 5 years, and that she believed her and her family's lives were in danger.
She said she felt like no one cared enough to take action.
Debbie's husband, Hal Gray, told the court, "The violence against me and my family has been emotionally traumatizing."
Ron Kriss, a former coworker of Raucci, said he now has chronic long term health problems from all of the stress Raucci put him and his family through.
"Raucci had an ego and power trip like the Godfather," he claimed.
Kriss said his father died not knowing if they were going to be okay, and his father also was traumatized from the attacks.
"He made each member of my family feel stalked and threatened," Kriss said of Raucci.
Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney did not hold back his opinions on Raucci and asked the judge for no mercy in sentencing . He said Tuesday the 61-year old used words to manipulate the public, is clearly unrepentant, and proved these qualities throughout his trial.
"The harm he caused and incapability of being rehabilitated should outweigh the fact he's a veteran and didn't kill anyone," Carney said.
Carney said it was through sheer luck that Raucci did not kill or physically injure his victims.
Yet the man who was vilified during his trial has a softer side, according to friends and family.
Two men who have known Raucci for more than 50 years say they don't even recognize the man who witnesses protrayed during the trial.
Jocko DiBlasio calls Raucci "one of the most generous people I've ever seen, one of the most loyal friends."
David Castricone says Raucci has "always been an honest person, even when we were younger. You could always depend on him."
Also speaking out for the first time today were Raucci's wife, Shelley, and his stepdaughter.
In a letter to Judge Hoye, Shelley Raucci pleaded for leniency and wrote about Raucci, "He does things from the heart and does not expect recognition, compliments or anything in return, just to see the surprise on someone's face and their happiness."
His stepdaughter Dana D'Onofrio wrote in her letter to the court, "He is our rock, our support and our life. Seeing him for only one hour, one time a week, for a wife and daughter is just not healthy for anyone."
In response to the victims' statements, DeAngelus read a prepared statement from Raucci in which he described himself as a victim to the court, arguing the words of victims like Balogh, Kriss, and the Grays were fabricated.
Raucci's statement claimed those who he had helped get jobs in the Schenectady School District had turned against him. He complained of being constantly labeled as a terrorist by the media, and the suffering his family underwent as a result.
Raucci was originally brought up on a charge of terrorism. It was one of the 4 counts he was acquitted of during his trial.
Raucci called his expected prison time a "death sentence for something I didn't do."
He will now head to state prison to serve his sentence. Raucci had been in county jail since arrest in February 2009.
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