WASHINGTON, April 26, 2017 — Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s private flight records were repeatedly released to her ex-husband’s attorney in an apparent violation of federal privacy laws.
“I, Susan Somma-Servidio, pursuant to 28 USC 1746, declare under the penalty of perjury that the matters described in this declaration are within my personal knowledge and are true and to the best of my belief,” said Susan Somma-Servidio, a paralegal with what was then called US Airways, in an affidavit sent to David Rucki’s attorney, Lisa Elliott, “The attached copy is a true account of the records we were able to gather in the subpoena.”
What was attached were previous and future flight records for Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, then a flight attendant with US Airways, describing not only every fight she’d be on for months but detailed records of flights she was still scheduled to take as well.
Along with her flight records, the airline also released flight records of her attorney, Michelle MacDonald, Dede Evavold, and Michael Rhedin, who was Grazzini-Rucki’s advocate.
Rhedin has been falsely identified as Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s boyfriend in previous press accounts, which, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki said, were based on false information released to the press by David Rucki and his attorney, Lisa Elliott.
A phone call to David Rucki’s cell phone for an explanation for why he’d need his ex-wife’s flight records was left unreturned.
Surprisingly, in its statement to CDN, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said they have no policy against the release of employee flight records and would not get involved:
“Airline employee records (including the flight records referenced) are the property of the airline and are not under the custody or control of the FAA. The FAA does not have any policy regarding the release of such type of records by the airlines. The FAA has no role in the private litigation referenced.”
It’s not clear if the release of flight records for Rhedin, MacDonald, and Evavold, who were passengers not staff, violates FAA policies.
The FAA had no further comment beyond their statement.
Sandra Grazzini-Rucki told CDN that after she learned that her flight records were being released, she first called the DC office of the FAA and then the Minnesota office but neither would get involved, telling her it was about a divorce.
US Airways has since merged with American Airlines, and an email to American Airline’s public relations department on this matter was also left unreturned.
American Airlines is already reeling from another public relations disaster after a flight attendant was caught on camera assaulting a passenger over the past weekend.
While the FAA does not have a policy against the release of such records, the release does appear to violate the Privacy Act of 1974, which “establishes a code of fair information practices that governs the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of information about individuals that is maintained in systems of records by federal agencies,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Flight records are only to be released as part of a criminal investigation or with the consent of the person whose records were released, in this case Sandra Grazzini-Rucki.
But neither exception was true with regard to Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s flight records, which were released to her ex-husband’s attorney over her repeated protestations at the behest of the divorce judge in the case, David Knutson.
Knutson’s role in this story is already a source of controversy. After placing himself exclusively on the divorce, in apparent violation of court rules, Judge Knutson issued nearly four thousand orders, almost all governing the behavior of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki.
In one hearing, when Grazzini-Rucki’s attorney failed to show up, Judge Knutson forced Sandra Grazzini-Rucki to proceed as her own attorney, where she cross-examined her ex-husband even though there was a restraining order against him purportedly keeping him away from her at the time.
Following a telephone conference at which no testimony was taken and no witnesses were sworn in on September 5, 2012, Judge Knutson issued an order on September 7, 2012, forcibly removing Sandra Grazzini-Rucki from her home and forbidding her from having any contact with her five children.
In a hearing on September 12, 2013, Knutson forced Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s then-attorney, Michelle MacDonald, to continue with the hearing handcuffed to a wheelchair, with no notes, pen, paper, or computer, and after a bailiff had told Sandra Grazzini-Rucki to go home. Knutson also proceeded to report Michelle MacDonald after this incident to the disciplinary board. MacDonald is currently appealing a two-month suspension of her license.
That incident is now the subject of a multi-million dollar lawsuit, and that trial will start in July 2017.
Judge Knutson also ordered that sole custody of each of the Ruckis’ five children be given to David Rucki, awarding him all their assets, leaving him with millions, though he’s told a court he’s on public aid. Concurrently, this left Sandra Grazzini-Rucki homeless and penniless, even though general judicial guidelines instruct judges not to leave either party in such a state when splitting up assets as this is supposed to be an “equitable distribution.”
A phone call to Judge Knutson’s law clerk, Evan Frasier, was left unreturned. An email to Beau Berentson, public affairs officer for the Minnesota courts, was also left unreturned.
Lisa Elliott declined to say why she needed Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s private flight records, but did shoot down another allegation, namely, that she didn’t provide a copy of the subpoena to her counterpart, Michelle MacDonald. She blamed the oversight on her paralegal, Rita Martin.
“WTF?!! He is crazy. Just ignore him. He keeps sending me shit like that too,” Elliott said in an email sent to this reporter and to Martin.
Martin declined to respond to a similar email.
In court, Michelle MacDonald argued that Elliott never provided her a copy of the subpoena she sent to U.S. Airways and thus she had no opportunity to quash it.
The release of flight records to David Rucki may not merely have been illegal but may have put Sandra Grazzini Rucki’s life in danger. David Rucki has a history of stalking her and threatening to kill her.
In an incident detailed in 2013 on the local Minnesota Fox affiliate, David Rucki sat his family around the kitchen table and threatened to kill all of them.
“I have six bullets, one for each of you,” his daughter quoted him as saying in the broadcast.
“David didn’t know Sandra’s friend was there and then said he was going to kill her, punch her and come after her for custody of the children,” noted a police incident report from May 22, 2011. “She didn’t feel he actually wanted to kill her, but thinks he said these things to frighten her.”
“Sandra also mentioned David has been physical in the past. He has pushed and shoved her but she has declined to call the police because of fear of what he would do when he came back from jail,” the incident report also stated. “Recently, David pulled the leg off the organ, placed it on her neck, and tried to choke her.”
“Our children Sami, Gianna, and Nico reported to me that on September 27, 2011, at approximately 12:30 AM they saw their father standing on the back deck of the house staring into the house,” Sandra Grazzini-Rucki stated in an affidavit filed to renew a restraining order. “They tell (me) this frightened them. David repeated this frightening behavior on October 30, 2011, when a number of my children reported to me he was standing outside the house looking in around 10:30 PM. We cannot report this behavior because according to the OFP, David just cannot enter the home.”
“I spoke with (Sandra) Grazzini-Rucki, who told me the suspect vehicle had driven up and down Wexford Lane and had also stopped in front of the residence. She told me her ex-husband, David Rucki, was the driver,” stated the police report. Sandra Grazzini-Rucki was describing an incident in Scott County, when she was visiting Michael Rhedin.
In another incident, Rhedin found a global positioning system device attached underneath his car, which police traced back to David Rucki’s address.
“The entire flight staff feared flying with me,” Sandra Grazzini-Rucki told CDN, after it was learned her flight records were being released to David Rucki.
When 20/20 did a broadcast about this case – specifically the two and a half year disappearance of the two oldest Rucki girls – they failed to mention any of these incidents, even as the show suggested Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s accusations of abuse were uncorroborated.
When Sandra Grazzini-Rucki was put on trial for helping to hide her girls, the trial judge, Karen Asphaug, disallowed all these incidents from being introduced into evidence even though Grazzini-Rucki argued she hid the girls because she feared for their safety.
The latest revelations come on the heels of potentially corrupt behavior by another Federal agency, the U.S. Marshals Service, which used a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team to arrest Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, even though it later was revealed she was not a fugitive, not facing any federal charges, and the U.S. Marshals have not provided this CDN reporter with any proper jurisdiction justifying their involvement.