Steven Raucci: Schenectady’s Satanic Maintenance Man

On another brilliant tip from C. Dave, I checked out a recent episode of This American Life called “Petty Tyrant.”

It’s one of their most astounding and spellbinding episodes yet, which is really saying something considering that TAL is probably the greatest radio show of our time.

“Petty Tyrant” tells the tale of Steven Raucci, a man who took over the Schenectady, NY school district maintenance department and ran it like an evil dictator for decades.

Raucci had a malevolent genius for manipulating the people he worked for and the poor souls who reported to him. He played subordinates against each other, sexually harassed secretaries, vandalized the homes of his enemies, and even planted bombs to terrorize his victims.

All the while, complaints against him were ignored, and many people he went after were too afraid to say anything for fear of his retribution.

And he did it all while wielding this scary toupee:

The source of Raucci’s power was that he simultaneously controlled the management of the school district maintenance department and the labor union that represented the employees of that department. He took control of the union first, then gained control of the department itself.

While he was the top-ranking employee, he managed to avoid being named anything more glorified than “head utility worker.” That’s because being officially appointed to management would force him to give up his post as head of the labor union.

And because Raucci ran the union, if an employee was being victimized by Raucci at work, there was nowhere for him to turn.

As for Raucci’s bosses? They were thrilled with his performance, because he got things done with brutal efficiency. Not only that, but he turned maintenance workers out in droves every time a local election arose. The manpower that Raucci controlled kept his bosses in power, so they didn’t take complaints against him seriously and allowed him to game his job titles in order to keep control of the union.

Raucci was finally brought down — indicted and convicted of 18 counts of arson, conspiracy, weapons and criminal mischief, and sentenced to 23 years in prison — after he was caught on tape discussing his methods and trafficking in explosives.

But not before he got up to the following misdeeds detailed in the TAL story:

  • When one of his favorite female subordinates mentioned that she preferred guys like Matthew McConaghey to guys like Raucci, he fully freaked out and reassigned her to a less enjoyable job.
  • He sexually harassed his secretary and made his male employees play “the man game,” wherein he would dong-punch them and squeeze their nards.
  • When a city employee was hired and tasked with making the city more energy-efficient, Raucci coveted his job and decided to backstab him. He tasked his employees with leaving lights on over the weekends and running the light boards at the football stadium non-stop for “repairs.” When the poor sap was fired, Raucci claimed the salary (though not the title) for himself, and went around cutting the electrical cords of “unauthorized appliances” to achieve massive energy savings in the schools.
  • When he believed that the wife of one of his workers had submitted a complaint against him, he painted the word “RAT” in huge letters on every exterior wall of their house during the night and left explosives on their doorstep.
  • Anyone who crossed him was detailed to do the crappiest job in the district — cleaning up after the high school students — no matter how much seniority they had earned.
  • When one woman working for him dumped another woman that was in Raucci’s good graces, her home was tagged with the word “CHEATER” and then bombed!

Despite his conviction, Raucci remains totally unrepentant. To this day, he still draws an $80,000 annual pension.

The story of Steven Raucci has to be heard to be believed. Major props to producer Sarah Koenig for telling an astounding tale.

Listen to the This American Life episode here. And if you want to learn more, the Schenectady school district’s Raucci report is online here.

About Alpine McGregor
Just like you, man. I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase. All in the game, though, right?

28 Responses to Steven Raucci: Schenectady’s Satanic Maintenance Man

  1. Pingback: Wisconsin teachers vs NJ Teachers - New Jersey - Page 17 - City-Data Forum

  2. Anonymous says:

    Typical union thug.

    • profit says:

      Any difference between that and a typical anti-union thug? Take Scott Walker and John Kacich, for example. Or Henry Ford. Or Andrew Carnegie. The last two hired thugs to beat the daylights out of union members.

      • Yeah, I’m not seeing the anti-union angle to this story that some people are reading into it. The secret to Raucci’s success was neutralizing the union and sucking up to management, which allowed him to exploit his workforce without anyone getting in his way.

      • Anonymous says:

        He was in the union….

      • Bob Burns says:

        Great logic.

      • Yeah, he actually ran the union which he should not have been able to do since he was in management. The claim that Raucci is a “typical” union member is absurd since his actions subverted the entire point of having a union. In effect the Schenectady maintenance workers did not even have a union while Raucci was in charge because he ran the union on management’s behalf. (By the way, I have never been in a union in my life and don’t ever anticipate joining one so I don’t have a dog in this fight.)

      • Bob Burns says:

        Indeed. The fact is that the guy was just another bully that got away with being a jerk for years. There are bully cops, bully firemen, bully military, and bully business people. Occupation has nothing to do with anything.

        In any event the guy got his due. It just took a little while for the world to catch up to him.

      • Fred Moore says:

        Don’t blame Steve. Blame the people around him who let it happen. And they knew it was happening!

    • Todd Maloy says:

      Okay – well he worked for a school district too, so does that make him a “typical school district thug”?

    • Raucci’s use of the Union was all about his psychotic controlling personality and nothing to do with Union activities
      I experienced bullying in my workplace and it didn’t stop until I threatened violence in return, this is the only language they understand, that said Raucci was on another level altogether.

  3. Morris Wise says:

    Nobody understands human nature better than the warden of a maximum security prison. An extra privilege will create the morality of a hungry rat in a once civilized person.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I just heard this amazing tale on NPR, and am shocked that someone convicted of 18 felony counts while serving the Schen. school district (w/some civil suits still pending)nonetheless is collecting an 80K annual pension. Makes me wonder if his pension is “hush money”, paid for not dragging others into the mud. I imagine that Raucci’s victims as well as the hard-working citizens of Schenectady are not feeling justice was fully served.

  5. Bob Burns says:

    I picked up this story on TAL and stood absolutely mesmerized at what I was hearing as I shaved this morning. This guy was total louse and he got what he deserved. Inasmuch as he controlled the votes of a lot of fellow union members, it’s entirely possible, even likely, that at least some school board members and even the superintendent was in the know on all of this guy’s terrorist behavior.

    Bob Burns
    Jefferson, Oregon

  6. Cathy Campbell says:

    I agree it was the best ever. I sat in my car in the parking garage and listened. I could not believe what I was hearing!

  7. ME says:

    Nice wig dude.

  8. Blossom says:

    An absolutely shocking story. The most shocking things were: a) They actually “got” him and gave him a proper prison sentence, which rarely happens, b) Like Anonymous said, this guy is keeping his pension. How??? The People of Schenectady need to raise some serious H*ll and c) He didn’t get killed by a hit-and-run driver while crossing the street one dark night. Had things continued much longer you can bet he would have.

  9. julianne sawinski says:

    there are others out there right now doing the same sorts of things and getting away with it in the same ways. most folks are cowards and the whistleblowers get the punishment and these guys go on and on,. i am praying that an evil one in florida will be stopped as we speak. i tried but no one else would speak up, too afraid.

  10. says:

    It’s amazing that everyone put up with this jerk for so long. Rot in hell, Steve Raucci.

  11. Lynell says:

    I am amazed at that power this man had over everyone. Very surprised he wasn’t murdered. He better be glad I wasn’t working for him.

  12. Jim says:

    I was shocked when I heard this guy’s story on This American Life. What a thug. I’m surprised he didn’t get a crowbar upside his head long ago. He deserves every bit of his sentence. I hope he is raped and terrified on a daily basis in prison.

  13. George says:

    Guys like this have been manipulating people there whole lives and getting away with. They use whatever means that they can to got what they want. Of course they don’t believe that they are doing any wrong, they are sociopaths!!

    I worked for guy just like this in a far northwest side HS in Chicago. He had the principal of the school wrapped around his finger. School administrators are really the ones at fault in these kind of situations!! To avoid problems they will ignore even flagrant violations of established policies. The real question is why didn’t any of the administrators in this case go to jail? It seems that they got rewarded instead of punished.

  14. The sad thing, tactics like this happen everyday, at companies, all across this country.

    I’ve experienced this, and contrary to what one poster said, and not to intimate that unions do not have theirs issue because they are just like any other organized entity with their good and bad elements. The thing to remember, however, is that in many cases, unions provide at least SOME level of worker protection. If anything, the district superintendent is more to blame here than any other single entity. As anyone should know, this is exactly what that union reps or presidents are not and should not be in positions such as this, for just these reasons, when they are the boss.

    He abused his authority, through and through and hurt many people in the process. Had the superintendent done his job, many people would not have been hurt in they way they word or lost their jobs.

  15. Natrano Sabrano says:

    This was not in any way a related union thug thing. This is a local story, and we have all followed it for the last few years, with some of the victims being known to me and people I know. This guy is truly a scumbag. This had nothing to do with anything more than Steven Raucci being a sadistic, manipulative, cowardly cretin whose only purpose was to oppress and dominate his subordinates for his own sickened gratification. His pension will do him no good, as he will likely pass away in prison. Good riddance.

  16. gulcin hatun calta says:

    this was the most terrifying story i herd on the radio, i just could not stop listening, more i herd more i was crying for the victims. some day hi will get his, punishment, controlling, bullying, and the sexually assaults , in the jail.

  17. Sassie Brat says:

    There are so many problems on so many levels that have been detailed in the story regarding this disgusting man. The people in power who were complicit in his crimes NEED TO BE IN JAIL with him! HOWEVER! Why is he still receiving any money? Are you people in NY crazy or what???

  18. dplavingarlic says:

    I know this is an old thread, but TAL replayed Petty Tyrant this weekend, so I just heard the story for the first time. Raucci’s union ties were not the basis for his deeds over the many years as facilities manager in Schenectady. If anything, his union manipulations were just his cynical way of flaunting his misanthropic disdain for humanity. Raucci was/is likely a certifiable sociopath without a drop of empathy in his being. He claimed to be loyal and respectful to his “friends”, to which he now claims to have none when later interviewed. People only responded out of fear to his maniacal cruelty and threats.

  19. I heard he’s now clerk at the prison commissary. I’d bet almost anything he’s still involved in bullying even behind bars as that position would definitely give him power again. WTF..can only hope he gets shivved..

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