WASHINGTON, March 13, 2017 — Dakota County Probation officials manually increased the level of probation monitoring of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki to a level far beyond what her crime deserved.
“I had assigned Sandra Grazzini-Rucki to XIP and Phyllis (Grubb of the Dakota County Probation Department) had talked to you since it is an override,” Lydia Olsen, a probation officer in the Dakota County Probation Department said in a previously unreleased email on September 22, 2016, to Nick Sandquist of the Dakota County Correctional Department.
The date of the email corresponds to the beginning of Grazzini-Rucki’s sentence for parental deprivation.
A phone call to Olsen’s work phone number was left unreturned and an email to Sandquist’s emall was also left unreturned.
As a result of this override, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s probation was set to the highest level so that she would be monitored akin to being a murderer or rapist. However, her crime, parental deprivation is far less severe.
Because of this, when Grazzini-Rucki was released at the end of October 2016, she was quickly deemed in violation after failing to contact her probation officer, which was required nearly every day under her restrictive probationary terms.
At the time of the violation, Grazzini-Rucki—who has been rendered homeless, jobless, and penniless by her divorce and criminal proceedings—did not have a phone, something she said the probation department was aware of. Yet she was deemed in violation of the terms of her probation anyway.
Grazzini-Rucki’s judge, Karen Asphaug, also ordered her to serve her year sentence in thirty day increments over a six year period, allowing probation to monitor her over the entire period.
If she was allowed to serve the sentence all at once, probation would not be an issue as her sentence would be completed all at once.
When a warrant was issued for her arrest after this violation, Dakota County involved the US Marshals Service.
“Matthew Palmer (a Deputy US Marshal) left a message,” said Anne Herbst, another probation officer to Sharon Reeves, also of the same department, in an email on November 2, 2016, “I called him back but (he) didn’t answer and I was unable to leave a message.”
“Our district office in Minnesota says they were asked to locate her for failure to appear, but did not have anything to do with her incarceration,” said Dave Oney, public affairs officer for the US Marshals Service, in an email to CDN.
But in fact, Grazzini-Rucki, who was only released from jail less than two weeks prior, did not have a court date and as such could not have failed to appear as Oney claimed.
This is not the only dubious statement Oney made to CDN regarding US Marshals’ involvement in the Grazzini-Rucki case.
On October 19, 2015, the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team from the US Marshals entered a timeshare where Grazzini-Rucki was staying after a flight—she was employed as a flight attendant at the time—to execute a warrant.
According to Oney, the US Marshals were involved because Grazzini-Rucki was a fugitive.
“There was a warrant issued by Dakota County. Dakota County is a member of our task force. You can probably get more information from the Dakota County Sheriff’s office or the Lakeville Police Department where the crime was originally committed. There was a Federal UFAP (Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution) warrant in place but that was dismissed once she was arrested in Florida. She was only booked into the jail on the state charge.”
But in fact, the warrant they were serving was sealed, meaning Grazzini-Rucki was not supposed to know it existed.
Unable to explain these two dubious statements, Oney suggested that US Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility—their version of internal affairs—be contacted to file a formal complaint, which this reporter did.
Lakeville Police have previously directed all calls on this case to the Dakota County Prosecutor’s office. Emails to James Backstrom, the county prosecutor, and Monica Jenson, the public affairs officer, were left unreturned.
The Dakota County Sheriff’s Department directed all inquiries to Marybeth Schubert, public affairs officer for Dakota County. Schubert did not respond to an email for comment.
A separate email to Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie was also left unreturned.
When Sandra Grazzini-Rucki was jailed in Florida, she was charged with gun running, kidnapping, and child trafficking. Because of the seriousness of the charges, she was housed in a cell with a convicted murderer recently released from death row.
It wasn’t until she was transported back to Minnesota—Grazzini-Rucki was handcuffed, shackled and placed in a separate cage during that trip because of the seriousness of the crimes involved—that the original charge of parental deprivation was reinstalled.
These latest revelations are part of the cacophony of corruption and unexplained events that have been the hallmarks of this case.
Though her ex-husband David Rucki had a long and documented history of abuse and violence — a bar fight, a road rage incident, incidents of stalking, multiple violations of restraining orders, and choking his wife with an organ leg — he was given sole custody of their children.
On April 19, 2013, the two oldest daughters ran away and stayed voluntarily at a horse farm for abused children.
They were found in November 2015, and their mother, her advocate Dede Evavold, and the two individuals, Gina and Doug Dahlen, who ran the horse farm were charged with an assortment of crimes.
Though all defendants wanted to argue that they hid the daughters for fear of what would happen to them in David Rucki’s custody, almost all his history of violence was disallowed by the trial Judge, Karen Aspghaugh, who inexplicably put herself on all four cases.