Date Archives August 2016

Additional criminal charges filed against Evavold in disappearance of missing sisters

The Dakota County Attorney’s Office has filed additional criminal charges against Dede (Deidre) Evavold for her involvement in the disappearance of two sisters from Lakeville.

Four additional felony charges of  deprivation of parental rights have been filed against Evavold, who has now been charged with a total of six felony counts for her involvement in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki.

Samantha and Gianna Rucki disappeared on April 19, 2013, during a custody and divorce dispute involving their parents.

Evavold is a close friend and confidant of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, the mother of Samantha and Gianna, who she met during Grazzini-Rucki’s divorce with David Rucki.

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Court allows audio and video coverage of Grazzini-Rucki’s sentencing hearing

Judge Karen Asphaug has granted a request to allow audio and video coverage of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s upcoming sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for September 21, 2016.

Grazzini-Rucki was found guilty last month on six felony counts of deprivation of parental rights related to the disappearance of her daughters, Samantha and Gianna Rucki. The sisters ran from their home on April 19, 2013 during a custody and divorce proceeding involving their parents.

David Rucki was awarded full custody of all five of his children in November 2013, while two of his daughters remained missing. On November 18, 2015 – 944 days after they disappeared – the girls were found living on a ranch in northern Minnesota by law enforcement, headed by the Lakeville Police Department. Rucki was reunited with his daughters days after they were found and they live with him at the family’s home in Lakeville.

According to Judge Asphaug’s order, there will be “no audio or video coverage of any victim testimony given during the proceedings.” Judge Apshaug’s order also states that any “audio/video coverage shall be limited to the proceedings conducted within the courtroom…”

Audio or video coverage is also “is prohibited during recesses or at any other time the trial judge is not present and presiding” and any audio or video coverage “shall not extend to activities occurring in other areas of the court building.” Continue reading

Michelle MacDonald dishonest about past attorney discipline

Michelle MacDonald vigorously denied any additional attorney complaints had been filed against her when asked during an interview earlier this year with Republicans who were deciding if she would be endorsed again in her bid for the Minnesota Supreme Court, despite being disciplined in 2012.

In her interview with the Republican Party of Minnesota’s Judicial Elections Committee on May 13, 2016, MacDonald acknowledges that an attorney complaint was filed against her in April 2014 with the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board by Judge David Knutson.

Knutson filed the complaint based on MacDonald’s behavior while serving as Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s family court attorney.

MacDonald said in her interview that she had not been informed by the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board if the investigation into Knutson’s complaint had not been completed.

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Attorney complaint filed against Michelle MacDonald

A 16-page petition for disciplinary action for violating of rules governing attorney conduct has been filed against Michelle MacDonald by the Director of the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, Susan M. Humiston.

The complaint against MacDonald is focused on her behavior during family court proceedings involving Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and her legal representation of Joseph Francis D’Costa. The complaint alleges MacDonald disorganization required the trial to last longer than necessary, adding that MacDonald offered exhibits that “were a mess.”

MacDonald’s attorney told Minnesota Lawyer that she will fight the complaint.

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Attorney: Sandra Grazzini-Rucki used donated ‘food stamp cards’ for $50K bail

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki was able to post her $50,000 bail within hours of being convicted of six felonies for deprivation of parental rights, by using donated “food stamp cards” according to her attorney, Michelle MacDonald.

Grazzini-Rucki was found guilty last week on six felony counts of deprivation of parental rights related to the disappearance of her daughters, Samantha and Gianna Rucki. The sisters ran from their home on April 19, 2013 during a custody and divorce proceeding involving their Grazzini-Rucki and David Rucki.

David Rucki was awarded full custody of all five of his children in November 2013, while two of his daughters remained missing. Rucki was reunited with his daughters days after they were found and they live with him at the family’s home in Lakeville.

After the guilty verdict was announced, Assistant Dakota County Attorney Kathyrn Keena said Grazzini-Rucki was a flight risk and asked for Grazzini-Rucki to be held in custody until her sentencing hearing on September 21, 2016.

Picture source: Dakota County Sheriff's Office
Picture source: Dakota County Sheriff’s Office

Keena noted it took nearly two months for law enforcement to find Grazzini-Rucki after an arrest warrant was issued for her last August. Grazzini-Rucki was eventually found at the Star Island Resort and Club in Kissimmee, Florida on October 18, 2015 and extradited back to Minnesota to await her trial.

Grazzini-Rucki was immediately taken into custody after Judge Karen Ashaug said Grazzini-Rucki would be required to post bail of $100,000 to be released without probationary conditions, or $50,000 to be released with probationary conditions.

Court documents show Grazzini-Rucki posted a $50,000 bail bond and was released from jail just hours after being convicted. Grazzini-Rucki repeatedly claimed in court that she had no money, income or home.

Grazzini-Rucki criminal defense attorney, Stephen Grigsby, said in court that he was not being paid to serve as her attorney and Grazzini-Rucki had many of her court fees waived after the judge approved her request to proceed “In Forma Pauperis.”

In response to a request for comment about how Grazzini-Rucki was able to post bail, MacDonald said a woman who was at the trial collected donations for Grazzini-Rucki, which included “food stamp cards.” MacDonald said the donations were brought to a bail bondsman by the woman at the trial, but the bail bondsman would not accept payment in that form. Continue reading