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Monday, February 4, 2019

The "Paper Divorce" from Hell

                                                      (Minneosta Judge David Knutson)

In what now looks like a remarkable and frankly bogus pronouncement, early on in the divorce process David Rucki claimed he didn't even think he was really getting divorced from his ex-wife Sandra "Sam" Grazzini-Rucki.

In an August 17, 2011, hearing, he said, "She (SGR) brought up this idea of a paper divorce or a divorce of convenience because of some issues we were dealing with, with her family in family court."

That little known divorce decree was signed on April 19, 2011; up to that point, the divorce was relatively painless. 

Later on in his August testimony, David Rucki explained what this issue is, "Her father, Al Grazzini, was an entrepreneurial guy, he had an estimated net worth of $300 million. The family has been fighting over the estate since the late 90s."

He went on to say he and his ex-wife weren't pulled in until 2006, but in 2008, he threatened to kill his in-law as part of a dispute in this same estate issue.

David Rucki made the now stunning statement- stunning because this so-called paper divorce (which only he has claimed) is now in its eighth year and has made national headlines- as an attempt to spin a police encounter in which he refused to leave the home after the April 2011 divorce was finalized.

According to two officers who testified, Joseph Danielson and Jeffrey Hanson, three police officers showed up at the Rucki home with a vacate order, as David Rucki was no longer allowed on the premises.

Both officers stated that it was a friend of Grazzini-Rucki's who called the police and they went up to the bedroom where David Rucki was before he left. Both officers said he was surprised that the officers arrived.

Here is how David Rucki described the same situation.

"I was pretty thrown back, so what I did was I – I was going to  leave the house. I called the kids in and that when I broke the news to the kids. I was upset. I broke the news to the kids that their mother had asked me to leave, and I went over to my friend, Tony Canny’s (ph) house who is a good friend of mine to talk this out,, to kind of work my way through it. I was there until 9:00, 9-ish, and then I came home. And when I walked in the door, that’s when I saw her and two of her girlfriends. They were drinking and I was pretty disgusted by that because of the fact of what had just happened earlier that night, I didn’t think that was appropriate behavior, and I was disgusted. And I turned and looked at them and I walked into the other room and I grabbed my son and told my son to come upstairs with me, Niko and I wanted to talk to him. And when he came upstairs, I asked him to go downstairs and tell his mother to ask her friends to go home because we had some things to deal with. And he walked down and about five, ten minutes later that’s when the police came and basically escorted out of the house." 
While he claimed to be taken aback, it's not clear why. The divorce decree he signed was only twelve pages, and he signed it with a notary present. SGR was given physical custody of their children and their marital home in the original divorce decree.

But when Allison Mann and Michael Brodkorb wrote a book, that yarn became much more sensational.

"Suddenly there was a knock on the bedroom door. As it opened, six police officers came in the room and surrounded David as he lay confused in his bed. Some of the officers had guns drawn, others had their hands on still-holstered weapons. “What are you guys doing?” he said as they stood above him. “You’re not supposed to be here,” an officer told him. “What are you talking about? I own this house, I built this house.” “Can we step outside?” the officer said. Again, David asked, “What are you talking about?” Next thing he knew he was being pulled from the bed, down the stairs, and out the front door. Outside in the  driveway an officer approached David. “You are divorced, you are not supposed to be here, what are you doing here?” David was shocked. “What?” His wife had told him just hours ago that she wanted a divorce—wanted one. “You’re divorced, right?” “No.” “You weren’t in court today?” the officer asked in an accusatory tone. “No. What are you talking about?” “I saw the papers in there, you got divorced today.” “I wasn’t in court today, I don’t know what you are talking about,” David said with a look that could only be described as dumbfounded. The officer insisted, “I read the papers, you are divorced.” 
Ms. Mann did not respond to an email for an explanation of how this story became so sensational in her book.

Mann, who doubles as the paralegal for David Rucki's attorney, previously called the police after finding another email "harassing". 

Furthermore, while David Rucki was stating that he thought they were only divorced on paper, this hearing was attended by the newly minted guardian ad litem. So, at the same time David Rucki was downplaying any issues in the divorce, the court felt the need to appoint a guardian ad litem who proceeded to say, "I would assume the therapist would meet with each parent and then with the children, for sure with the older ones individually. It's going to take a while to get everyone in individually and then usually what happens and then usually what happens next is they'd meet with one or more of the children and the father."

So, what started as a so-called paper divorce has by this point already transformed into a guardian ad litem, at least one therapist and as the record of this hearing shows, a reunification therapist.

"The parties are going to work with Moxie (a reunification therapy group)." Friedrich said at another point. 

Friedrich did not respond to an email for comment. 

All of this is even more remarkable since at this point, in August of 2011, the two parties had technically been divorced, with a divorce decree.

Here is part of Grazzini-Rucki's then attorney, Graves said, "I guess you know as far as custody is concerned, that's really contingent on you reopen the judgment and decree."

Graves was speaking to Judge David Knutson, who had then only recently been assigned to the divorce. 

This hearing was in part to determine if this divorce decree should be thrown out and the so-called paper divorce be restarted; Knutson did open it up shortly thereafter and this divorce continues without end in 2019. 

For someone who thought he was only getting divorced on paper, David Rucki seems to have mastered how to maneuver in a real divorce where he received 100% of the assets and sole custody of the children. 

Judge Knutson excluded a mountain of evidence of David Rucki's violent abuse when the custody case went to trial in September 2013.

He declined to explain when I emailed him, but he did allow for the appointment of a GAL, therapists, and even a reunification therapist, all before he technically even opened this divorce back up, a divorce where one party claimed they weren't even divorced but only divorced on paper. 

This is no academic point. The original divorce decree signed by Judge Timothy Wermeger made this point, "The parties were able to settle all issues arising out of the dissolution of the marriage including: child custody and support, spousal maintenance, disposition of real and personal property, and the payment of debts and attorney fees.”

David Rucki argued, after the fact, that he was defrauded by the divorce, claiming in this hearing that he thought he was signing a paper divorce. 

If, in fact, this claim- never made before or after as I can find- is itself fraudulent, then everything which happened after the divorce decree which became active on May 12, 2011, is itself fraudulent. 

That maybe why it is not only Ms. Mann and Knutson who declined to comment. 

I also sent emails to members of the Minnesota Judiciary public affairs office, Lissa Finne, Kyle Christopherson, Beau Berentson, and Alyssa Siems-Roberson, who also did not respond to the emails for comment. 

I also sent an email to Jeff Shorba, the Minnesota Court Administrator, who also declined to comment. 

Members of the press who have not explained this portion of the divorce process also have a lot to answer for and that is why it should surprise no one that Brandon Stahl also did not respond to an email for a comment on this hearing.

Emails to Sean Dooley and Beth Mullen, the two producers on the 20/20 broadcast of the show on this case, were also left unreturned. This revelation, like anything which painted David Rucki in a bad light, did not make it into the broadcast. 

I have also reached out to Laura Adelmann of the Sun Current, the local newspaper in Lakeville, Minnesota, where David Rucki lives, and her editor, Tad Johnson, and neither has responded. 

David Rucki represented himself and did not even attend the hearing in April 2011, which memorialized the divorce initially in front of Judge Wermeger.

On the 20/20 broadcast, Elliott called the divorce a "guerilla divorce"; what she failed to mention is that the divorce only became a guerilla as soon as she was hired by David Rucki, shortly after the first divorce decree, in May 2011, became official. 


Leslie said...

Judge Wermeger signed my deficient decree also without a hearing in July 2006 after retirement funds paid to 2 attorneys. I was kicked out of my home by my mother-in-law, and 2 brother-in-laws from out if state. I kept asking my attorney Kathy Hart to get our company stock papers when she refused and just said oh don't worry about the word custody oh don't worry you'll get the company stock when he gets. come to find out all the stock was hidden and they accepted a report of $0 income. I ended up homeless and following the father of my children around the country again. I'm sure Dakota county is trying to hide all this at least since 2005. What a mess.

Nina Belky said...

The transcripts from the divorce also show Judge Knutson acknowledges there was no "meeting of the minds" and Sandra wasn't aware of the paper divorce. Meaning what David Rucki did could be considered fraud and theft by swindle...and Judge Knutson allowed this makes him a co-conspirator. No wonder these crooks are trying so hard to silence Sandra!