Category Legal Developments

Ooops: Another fake news story from Grazzini-Rucki supporter retracted

An online story published by a key supporter of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki which made false and misleading claims about jury tampering during Grazzini-Rucki’s criminal trial was taken down by the media outlet after being contacted by Missing in Minnesota about the inaccurate facts contained in the story.

The inaccurate story was published by Michael Volpe for Communities Digital News last Thursday, but the story was later edited with multiple corrections by Jacquie Kubin, President of Communities Digital News, and then republished. Continue reading

Doug and Gina Dahlen violated jail work release rules

During their brief time in jail for their role in the disappearance of two sisters from Lakeville, Minnesota, Doug and Gina Dahlen repeatedly violated jail work release rules, based on documents obtained by Missing in Minnesota.

The repeated rule violations raise questions about the supervision the Dahlens received by jail staff, and if the clear violation of jail work release rules warrant further investigation by law enforcement and corrections officials in Minnesota.

Easy time in Traverse County

Doug and Gina Dahlen were released from the Traverse County Jail on Friday, June 2, after serving just 20 days in jail for their role in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki. The Dahlens were released after their attorneys successfully petitioned the court to allow the Dahlens to receive credit for good behavior in jail.

Judge Karen Asphaug permitted the Dahlens to participate in a work release program throughout the term of their sentence. Work release gives inmates leave from jail to maintain employment while serving their sentence. But strict rules exist for work release programs and vary by county and program.

The Traverse County Jail, located in Wheaton, Minnesota has specific guidelines which must be followed by inmates participating in the work release program.

Days prior to their release, attorneys for Doug and Gina Dahlen filed a motion to clarify their sentence requesting early release based on “good conduct.”

As part of this motion the attorneys obtained information from the Traverse County Jail regarding the Dahlens’ conduct while in custody. According to correspondence filed with the motion pleadings, the Dahlens were labeled “model inmates” by Brenda Bartz, the Traverse County Jail Administrator. This alleged statement by Bartz was the basis for the motion requesting early release by the Dahlens. Continue reading

Doug and Gina Dahlen released from jail after serving only 20 days

Doug and Gina Dahlen were released from the Traverse County Jail this afternoon, after serving just 20 days in jail for their role in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki.

Samantha and Gianna’s father, David Rucki, released a statement yesterday in response to an order granting Doug and Gina Dahlen an early release from jail.

In his statement, David Rucki expressed his strong frustration that Doug and Gina Dahlen would serve only 20 days in jail:

I am appalled at the decision to allow the Dahlens to be released from jail after serving only 20 days. During the 942 days my missing children were held by the Dahlens, they were denied access to any medical treatment and education.

The Dahlens robbed my children of their youth, their family, their friends, and their life. My children and family were victimized by the Dahlens and we are still working together as a family to fully recover from the pain and trauma they inflicted. 

Today’s decision to allow the Dahlens to stroll out of jail after serving only 20 days trivializes the severity of their crimes and the pain inflicted on my children and family.”

Doug and Gina Dahlen, pleaded guilty for their role in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki, and were later sentenced  to one year in jail. The Dahlens’ full jail sentence was stayed, pending the successful completion of two-years probation and a jail sentence of 31 days. Continue reading

Dahlens will be out of jail tomorrow; David Rucki ‘appalled’ by court’s decision

David Rucki released a statement today in response to an order granting Doug and Gina Dahlen an early release from jail after serving only 20 days for their involvement in the disappearance of his children for 944 days.

In his statement, David Rucki expressed his strong frustration that Doug and Gina Dahlen served only 20 days in jail:

I am appalled at the decision to allow the Dahlens to be released from jail after serving only 20 days. During the 942 days my missing children were held by the Dahlens, they were denied access to any medical treatment and education.

The Dahlens robbed my children of their youth, their family, their friends, and their life. My children and family were victimized by the Dahlens and we are still working together as a family to fully recover from the pain and trauma they inflicted. 

Today’s decision to allow the Dahlens to stroll out of jail after serving only 20 days trivializes the severity of their crimes and the pain inflicted on my children and family.”

Doug and Gina Dahlen, pleaded guilty for their role in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki, and were later sentenced  to one year in jail. The Dahlens’ full jail sentence was stayed, pending the successful completion of two-years probation and a jail sentence of 31 days. Continue reading

Dahlens want out of jail after serving only 20 days

UPDATE: The Dahlens have been granted an early release from jail. We’ll have more information soon on Missing in Minnesota.

Doug and Gina Dahlen, who pleaded guilty for their role in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki, filed a request with Dakota County to be released from jail tomorrow, after serving only 20 days in jail.

On May 2, 2017, Doug and Gina Dahlen were each sentenced to one year in jail by Judge Karen Asphaug. The Dahlens’ full jail sentence was stayed, pending the successful completion of two-years probation, and after they served 31 days in jail – one day for each month the Rucki sisters were held at their ranch in Herman, Minnesota.

But in a motion filed yesterday with Dakota County, the Dahlens’ attorneys requested that Doug and Gina Dahlen be released from jail on Friday, June 2, 2017, after serving only 20 days of their 31 day sentence in jail.

The Dahlens are serving their jail sentence in Traverse County and according to public records, the Dahlens are currently scheduled to be released from jail on June 13, 2017. Continue reading

Law enforcement investigating threatening social media posts connected to Grazzini-Rucki and supporters

Law enforcement in Dakota County is currently investigating numerous threatening, harassing, and defamatory statements which have been published on social media accounts connected to Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and her supporters.

A collection of social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook have targeted judges, law enforcement, court staff, and journalists, including members of their families.

David Rucki and members of his family continue to be targeted by multiple social media accounts, which has lasted for years.

Missing in Minnesota is not publishing the name of the suspected social media accounts, nor will the content contained in the posts be published at this time. Continue reading

Missing and found in Minnesota: Doug and Gina Dahlen

Doug and Gina Dahlen, who pleaded guilty for their role in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki, did not report to jail in Dakota County or Grant County to serve their jail sentence yesterday morning, triggering widespread confusion as to their whereabouts.

Based on information uncovered by Missing in Minnesota, it was later determined that the Dahlens had reported to jail in Traverse County. The jail in Traverse County is located in Wheaton, Minnesota and after traveling to the jail late yesterday, Missing in Minnesota was able to confirm that Doug and Gina Dahlen were in custody.

But questions remain unanswered today as to how and why the Dahlens were permitted to report to jail in Traverse County, when they live in Grant County, and were criminally charged and prosecuted in Dakota County. Continue reading

Lawyers Board: Michelle MacDonald’s ‘serious misconduct’ warrants suspension of her law license

Michelle MacDonald’s behavior during a family court hearing for Sandra Grazzini-Rucki was described as “the ultimate dereliction of an attorney’s duty, and is unquestionably serious misconduct warranting suspension” in a brief filed by the Minnesota Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board involving the attorney complaint against MacDonald.

A judicial referee appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court recommended in January that MacDonald’s law license be suspended for a minimum of 60 days, followed by two years of probation, which would include a mental health evaluation.

The recommendation by Judge Heather Sweetland comes after a two day hearing was held last November about an attorney complaint filed against MacDonald, who was a candidate for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2014 and 2016.

MacDonald is appealing the recommendation that her law license be suspended and the brief filed by Susan M. Humiston, Director of the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board. Continue reading

532 days after the Rucki sisters were found, the initial criminal trials are over

532 days after Samantha and Gianna Rucki were found on a ranch in rural Minnesota by the Lakeville Police Department on November 18, 2015, the initial stage of the criminal trials are over.

The Rucki sisters were taken by their mother Sandra Grazzini-Rucki in violation of a court order near their home in Lakeville, Minnesota on April 19, 2013.

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

Two defendants are appealing their criminal convictions, and below is a recap of the initial criminal trials.

Lakeville Police Department

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Picture source: Missing in Minnesota

The investigation into disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki was lead by the Lakeville Police Department. The Lakeville Police department coordinated the search for the missing sisters with other law enforcement agencies, including the United States Marshals Service.

In May 2016, Det. Jim Dronen received the Medal of Commendation from Lakeville Police Chief Jeff Long for his work in locating the missing Rucki sisters.

Dakota County Attorney’s Office

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Picture source: Missing in Minnesota

The Dakota County Attorney’s Office charged four people related to the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki: Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, Dede (Deirdre) Evavold, Douglas Dahlen and his wife, Gina Dahlen.

The decision by Doug and Gina Dahlen to plead guilty ensured that Assistant Dakota County Attorney Kathy Kenna successfully prosecuted all of the people criminally charged related to the disappearance of the Rucki sisters. Continue reading

Doug and Gina Dahlen sentenced to jail, probation for role in disappearance of Rucki sisters

Doug and Gina Dahlen were each sentenced to one year in jail today at the Dakota County Judicial Center in Hastings for their role in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki from Lakeville, Minnesota. The Dahlens’ full jail sentence was stayed, pending the successful completion of two-years probation.

They both will serve 31 days in jail – one day for each month the Rucki sisters were held at their ranch in Herman, Minnesota.

On April 19, 2013, the Rucki sisters disappeared during a custody and divorce dispute involving their parents – Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and David Rucki.

The sisters were taken near their home in Lakeville by their mother in violation of a court order and were later driven to the Dahlen’s ranch in northern Minnesota by their mother, Grazzini-Rucki and her friend, Dede Evavold on April 21, 2013.

Doug and Gina Dahlen, who pleaded guilty in January, admitted in court they knew David Rucki had been awarded custody of his children and that they failed to contact to David Rucki or law enforcement that the missing Rucki kids were living on their ranch. The Dahlens had each been charged with six felony counts for their role in the disappearance of the Rucki sisters.

By pleading guilty to one count, the remaining counts against the Dahlens were dismissed. Doug and Gina Dahlen are scheduled to report to jail on May 16, 2017, at 9AM.  Continue reading