Dakota County, Minn, August 2016: Trucking contractor, David Rucki’s false statements and refusal to provide information about his finances in legal proceedings suggest an ongoing pattern of fraud and financial abuse.
False statements include: Rucki lied during the criminal trial of ex-wife Sandra Grazzini-Rucki when making claims that he was duped into signing a divorce settlement in 2011, claiming that he had no knowledge of what was happening. In truth, Rucki signed over a dozen documents, in front of numerous witnesses, and willingly entered into the original divorce settlement.
Rucki lied when stating that Sandra masterminded a “paper divorce” scam that stripped him of everything he owned. What did Rucki lose? He retained a multi-million dollar company and its assets, retained numerous vehicles and property and eventually won sole custody of all five children. The truth is that Sandra was forcibly separated from her children, left homeless and destitute, and stripped of her portion of the family trust (a non-marital asset) as a result of an unjust family court order. The entire proceeds of Sandra’s portion of the trust were turned over to Rucki. Rucki is also the beneficiary of his own, separate family trust; which has remained intact.
During the criminal trial, Rucki’s lies about the financial aspects of the divorce were repeated by Prosecuting Attorney, Kathryn M. Keena. Keena had possession of the Grazzini-Rucki family court file, and either ignored or suppressed evidence to endorse Rucki’s sob story. Rucki’s lies about the “paper divorce” were used by Keena to discredit Sandra during the criminal trial. Keena portrayed Sandra as a vindictive ex-wife who would do anything to destroy poor Rucki, including financially wipe him out. Rucki is now claiming he suffered extreme emotional distress, and that Sandra should be given the harshest penalty possible. Keena attempted to impose an aggravated sentence against Sandra but was unsuccessful because the case does not meet the legal standard for aggravating circumstances. Keena Drops Aggravated Sentence Against Sandra Grazzini-Rucki/
Claims of Rucki’s victimization are not supported by fact. Court documents, and testimony from Rucki himself, reveal a much different story that what he has recently portrayed to the jury, and to the public about the “paper divorce”. Unmasked, Rucki’s claims are that of an abuser projecting his own heinous deeds onto a victim. David Rucki is a man who is willing to destroy his own family, and put his children through the pain of divorce, in order to benefit financially from a scam he alone concocted. Rucki calls this scam the “paper divorce”.
Rucki’s Sob Story: Fact or Fiction?
Prevailing themes in the Grazzini-Rucki divorce and custody dispute, and its aftermath, involve allegations of domestic violence, and financial fraud. What is lost in the court, and following media controversy is that abuse has impacted the Grazzini-Rucki family at every level, even financially.
David Rucki’s divorce sob story, and alleged financial ruin, was prominently featured in an article published by Laura Adelmann, reporter with the Sun This Week at the end of July 2016: Revealing testimony highlights Grazzini-Rucki trial Adelmann offered “revealing testimony” from Sandra’s criminal trial, including testimony from Rucki who claimed he was victimized in divorce proceedings.
Testifying in the criminal trial, Rucki accuses Sandra of pushing for an “on paper only” divorce. However, in family court, Rucki admits the “on paper only” divorce was his idea. Rucki stated during a deposition on August 8, 2011 that a “paper divorce” was needed “to get the business going” and he “didn’t think it would be the end of his marriage” (abuse involves the exploitation of the victim). Findings from Judge Knutson (Re-Opening of the Judgement and Decree) also state that Sandra did not know about the “on paper” divorce and there was “no meeting of the minds”. In other words, Rucki conned Sandra during divorce proceedings.
Rucki lied during the criminal trial when testifying about the “paper only divorce” and assigned blame to Sandra. Rucki’s comments are significant because these false statements were used to paint Sandra as a vindictive ex-wife, which contributed to her being charged with 6 felonies. Prosecuting Attorney Keena had the Grazzini-Rucki family court file available to her, and referred to it during trial. Instead of presenting facts, Keena chose to present a lie in order to build her case and secure a win.
The Paper Divorce Scam
The “Paper Divorce” began with a mutually agreed upon divorce settlement and resulted in Rucki successfully contesting the divorce, claiming he did not read or see the documents and was tricked into signing by Sandra. At the same time as he claiming to be a victim, Rucki admits divorce had financial advantages for him, that it would benefit his business.
According to court documents, “Respondent (Rucki) alleged that the parties agreed to a ‘paper divorce’, which would allow Petitioner (Sandra) to access some funds from a trust while parties continued living as husband and wife.” Sandra’s portion of the family trust is a non-marital asset, Rucki is not entitled to it – there is not any stipulation in the trust documents that would allow Rucki to access funds as he described. Rucki not only felt entitled to the trust, but ruthlessly pursued it.
Is it plausible that David had no idea what was going on with the divorce, as he claims? Laura Adelmann reports: “Rucki also testified that he arrived home one day in 2011 to discover he was divorced, and Grazzini-Rucki called police who removed him from their Lakeville home. ‘I never went to a court proceeding or saw anything,’ David Rucki said. ‘I couldn’t figure it out.’ Adelmann also reports: “David Rucki testified he returned later that night and took photos of the divorce decree that awarded sole custody of their children to Grazzini-Rucki and severed his rights to the house, property and everything they owned.” Rucki, a successful businessman and trucking contractor, has signed countless contracts and other legal documents throughout his career, and now is unable to understand his own divorce settlement?
A paper trail of court documents, and other evidence, indicate that Rucki was aware, and actively participating in the divorce proceedings that he now claims he knew nothing about. Rucki met with Sandra to discuss the terms of the divorce, he signed multiple documents and agreed to settlement on April 19, 2011. Rucki also signed a waiver of counsel and declined his right to legal representation. Dissolution was granted on May 12, 2011, Judge Wermager approved of the settlement.
Further, Rucki admits in court proceedings that he wanted the divorce to provide additional revenue for his business: “Respondent (Rucki) testified that Petitioner and Respondent had discussed getting a divorce ‘in paper only’ for financial purposes…”
While Rucki’s story has changed numerous times about the “paper divorce”, Sandra’s has remained the same, “Petitioner (Sandra) testified that she did not know what Respondent was talking about when he referred to an ‘in paper only’ divorce.”(Findings of Fact, Order Dated 9/21/2011, Judge Knutson). Adelmann reports the same, “In court, Grazzini-Rucki denied she suggested getting a divorce on paper so she could access the trust funds.”
The only person who benefited from the “paper divorce” is Rucki. When it was no longer beneficial to be associated with this scam, he shifted the blame onto the victim, Sandra.
Adelmann reports: “The order also required David Rucki to pay $3,673 per month in child support and $10,000 per month in spousal maintenance, according to court documents. “It left me with zero,’ Rucki said. He said Grazzini-Rucki had earlier proposed they divorce ‘on paper only’ so she could access $1.5 million from a family trust.” Question – how does Rucki go from not knowing anything about the divorce, to reciting specific details that indicate he is aware of the terms of settlement? Once again, Rucki cannot keep his story straight!
Also notice that Rucki’s focus during his testimony about the “paper divorce”is on himself, and completely ignores the impact this would have on the children. In another example, taken from the August 8, 2011 deposition, Rucki says the fair way to handle the property division after the divorce is to “sell it all”. When asked where the children would live (if the house were sold), Rucki replies, “That is something we will have to figure out when the courts figure it out.” Rucki is totally unconcerned that his actions could cause the children to become homeless, and yet he portrays himself as the victim.
Rucki bankrolled his business on Sandra’s misfortune. Rucki’s own words, recorded in a transcript from August 8, 2011 “In order for me to get working again and to get a credit line back, right, was to get rid of the existing credit line that was there two hundred some – I don’t remember what the exact number is – hundred dollars, I don’t know what… She (Sandra) told me she can get the money, and I kept asking where; she never told me, and that she would pay off the credit line. Now that allows me to work and go after re-establishing getting a new credit line okay?
The kicker to this story was, she didn’t tell me that she was going to take the house (Ireland Place) that we used as collateral against the loan; so on May 12 that whole thing unraveled for me. Now she pays off, she is my godsend and paying off this terrible loan, and all of a sudden, she pulls the carpet from under me and takes the house; now I have nothing to back the loan, okay? That’s one of the problems I have with the bank right now, I have no collateralization.”. Rucki states later in the same transcript that Rucki Trucking “is almost defunct”. Adelmann reports, “He also stated Grazzini-Rucki told him the trust has a provision that if she or other siblings were divorced and struggling financially, they could access some of its money and get some financial relief.” There is no provision in the trust documents that states what Rucki claims. Rucki was scrambling to establish another credit line, and preyed upon Sandra to do it. The same house, Ireland Place, is also connected to allegations of mortgage fraud.
Also concerning, is the response of the court. In the Re-Opening of the Judgement and Decree Judge Knutson found that: “Even if Respondent (Rucki) did have the opportunity to review the Judgement and Decree, Respondent (Rucki) testified that he thought parties were agreeing to a ‘paper divorce’. The mismatch between the parties’ intentions provides sufficient evidence of mistake to vacate the Judgement and Decree on these grounds alone. clearly, there was no meeting of the minds with respect to the Stipulated Judgement and Decree.” In his own words, and in front of Judge Knutson, Rucki admits he devised the “paper divorce” scam and used the courts to swindle Sandra out of her portion of the family trust. Rucki’s “intention” clearly involved fraud, and manipulaton. Judge Knutson ignores that a criminal act is taking place right under his nose, and then extends preferential treatment towards Rucki. The result has been disastrous for Sandra, the children, and now even the public is at risk. The term “the Rucki Divorce” is now being used to describe the legal precedent this case has created.
Rucki is expected to make a victim impact statement at Sandra’s sentencing on September 21st – his words will weigh heavily on the sentence imposed against Sandra. Prosecuting Attorney Keena has already attempted to give Sandra an aggravated sentence, imposing a harsh penalty because, she claims, Rucki has suffered so much. Will society be safer with Sandra in prison? Or does the true danger exist in a court system that is willing to put an abuse victim, who sought to protect her children, in jail in order to protect a dangerous abuser?