Lost in Translation: The Ongoing Struggle of Sandra “Sam” Grazzini-Rucki in Navigating Minnesota Family Court Child Support System

Sandra 'Sam' Grazzini-Rucki

Editor’s Note: David Rucki and Sandra ‘Sam’ Grazzini-Rucki [Grazzini] are known for their highly publicized divorce and child custody battle.  Their case gained attention in the United States due to allegations of parental alienation against Grazzini, domestic abuse against Rucki, and the disappearance of their two daughters in 2013, when Family Court flipped custody of their children from Grazzini to Rucki. 

The daughters were found safe in 2015 and forced into a remote prison-like camp for reunification therapy with their father. The happy circumstance of locking the daughters away prevented them from testifying against their father and his abuse.

Grazzini was convicted of six felony counts of custodial interference and spent several months in jail.

In this story by Michael Volpe, we probe the history of the child support orders in this case.

By Michael Volpe

Sandra ‘Sam ‘ Grazzini-Rucki and David Rucki.

The Minnesota divorce and custody case of David Rucki and Sandra “Sam” Grazzini-Rucki started in 2011 and on May 12, Judge Tim Wermeger issued the first child support order.

Based on Rucki’s income of $20,000 per month as the owner of TL Rucki Trucking, Judge Wermeger ordered Rucki to pay $3,673 per month in child support to Grazzini.

Rucki was delinquent in payments and, at one time, in danger of the state suspending his driver’s license. Judge David Knutson overruled the suspension order.

Judge Knutson

In April 2013, custody was flipped from mother to father -based on parental alienation. 

See: Parental Alienation Scandal: From Affluent Family to Felon: The Tragic Tale of Sandra ‘Sam’ Grazzini

Rucki Case Part #2: Family Court Corruption in Dakota County Minnesota

At the time of the custody flip, Rucki owed more than $11,000 in child support to Grazzini.

Dvavid Rucki.

Now Rucki demanded child support from Grazzini.  He claimed he made far less than the $20,000 per month he earned at the time of the divorce when he owned his own trucking company. He claimed he earned $5,ooo per month as an employee of another trucking company.

Rucki lived in the affluent suburb of Lakeville, Minnesota, in a home valued at more than half a million. Yet in 2014, Rucki told Dakota County that his income dropped by 75%, making him eligible to apply for taxpayer-provided benefits. 


Dakota County in red.

The Court ordered Grazzini to pay $1,020 per month to Rucki in child support.  Though Rucki was behind $11,000 plus on his child support payments to her, the Court ordered Grazzini to pay him with no offset for the money Rucki owed.

Missing from the Dakota County Child Support records is any mention of employment or income for Grazzini. The Court imputed her income.

In this process, a judge determines child support based on the income they think an individual can make, regardless of how much they make.

For several years after, Grazzini had no income, and could not pay, but the county continued to assess her at $1020 per month, with arrears with interest adding up.

With her arrest in October 2015, Minnesota suspended Grazzini’s child support obligations.  For almost three years, Grazzini was in the crosshairs of the Minnesota criminal justice system and was not obligated to pay child support. 

On May 3, 2018,  as Grazzini served the last month of her sentence at MCF Shakopee, Child Support Magistrate Maria Pastoor held a hearing on Rucki’s request for the Court to reimpose Grazzini’s  child support.

Magistrate Pastoor started the hearing with:

 “Has either of the lawyers heard from Ms. Grazzini-Rucki or her lawyers? It is now 1:55 and Sandra Grazzini-Rucki is not here. I understand that she is currently incarcerated. She could have requested to appear by phone. That request probably would have been granted, but she did not make that request.”

Grazzini claims the Court never told her about the hearing.

At the hearing, Rucki argued his ex-wife, now a six-time felon, could get the same job she had as a flight attendant and that the Court should impute she could earn the same salary when she got out of jail.

Had Grazzini attended the hearing, she might have informed the Court that airlines do not hire felons as flight attendants.

On May 12, 2018, Magistrate Pastoor issued a ruling reinstating Grazzini’s child support – at $975 per month, starting June 1 – the day she exited jail.

Upon her release, Grazzini made a motion pro se, appealing the support order.

She wrote, “I applied for and now receive food support/SNAP. SNAP is a means tested program, indicating the recipient is impoverished and in need of assistance with food for their survival. This change makes the order unfair in its current form… According to Minnesota state law, modification of child support can be obtained based on receipt of public assistance…. I have been homeless, unemployed, and destitute.”

Child Support Magistrate Jan Davidson set a hearing in August. 

In preparation for the hearing, Rucki filed an affidavit with the Court, stating, “I will not be turning over my tax returns.”

He swore in the affidavit that he was working as a low-wage employee paid by check at his own trucking company, TL Rucki. 

Rucki claimed he no longer owned the company. His sister, a chiropractor, he said, owned it and he was her employee, making a fraction of what he earned when he owned it. 

Rucki applied for public assistance benefits and received at least public medical assistance.

The hearing was held on August 7, 2018.

It started with Rucki taking the stand to explain why he should not have to disclose his tax returns.

On the stand, he said he received 1099s but, in his affidavit to the Court, Rucki swore he received W-2s, as an employee of TL Rucki Trukcing. 

W-2 is for employees and involves tax withholding and potential benefits. 1099 is for independent contractors and business owners responsible for their taxes and benefits.

Child Support Magistrate Davidson abruptly ended the hearing, cutting off Rucki in the middle of his testimony.

Grazzini never got to make her arguments concerning her own  impoverished status.

Two weeks later, on August 21, Magistrate Davidson issued an order reducing Grazzii’s support from $975 to $215 monthly.

Magistrate Davidson also concluded that Rucki was lying.

“The failure of [Rucki] to provide verification of his income after falsely claiming to be a W2 employee and to have check stubs showing year to date income, allows the court to make negative inferences about his income,” Magistrate Davidson stated.

She imputed his income at $10,000 per month, twice what he hoped.

Though the Court reduced Grazzini’s child support payments she was unemployed and homeless. She could not pay $215 per month. 

She appealed. About a year later, on June 17, 2019, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled.

Judge Tracy Smith

Judge Tracy Smith wrote,

“It is undisputed that Grazzini-Rucki is unemployed… Grazzini-Rucki argued to the CSM [Child Support Magistrate] that she is not employable because of her six felony convictions and because she was homeless and lacked a means of transportation. Grazzini-Rucki also stated that she did not have food ‘to maintain the energy to put one foot in front of the other’ and that she suffered from injuries impairing her ability to work.

The CSM did not ignore Grazzini-Rucki’s assertions; the CSM found that, given Grazzini-Rucki’s criminal history, Grazzini-Rucki could not earn the same level of income as she had prior to the felony convictions. However, finding ‘no reported job search efforts’ in between and after Grazzini-Rucki’s incarcerations and ‘no evidence that [she] is mentally or physically unable to work full time,’ the CSM did not accept Grazzini-Rucki’s statements that she could not obtain any kind of employment. Grazzini-Rucki does not argue that, contrary to the CSM’s finding, her statements are corroborated by other evidence. Grazzini-Rucki’s claim that her good-faith job-search efforts were unfruitful, or that her predicament prevented her from even trying to search for a job, relies solely on her own statements.”

Though the argument sounded good on paper, there was one thing the appellate Court failed to consider.

The evidence they said Grazzini did not show might have been offered had Magistrate Davidson not abruptly ended the hearing while Rucki was apparently lying about his w-2s. This would have given Grazzini a chance to establish hardship.

With no job and no home, Grazzini fell further behind on child support, and at $215 per month, it continued to accrue as unpaid debt.

In 2021, Minnesota transferred Grazzini’s back-due child support debt to Florida since Grazzini lives in Florida. The case remains open, though the youngest child is now in his 20s.



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  • The piecing together of Joan kloth Zanard involvement in family court. It would appear per Internet information. Joan meet her now husband. She started that her husband was having problems with both former wives. She stated she fixed the relationship with the first x. Which one child was involved. The second wife appeared to have issues with Mr. Zanard with the beginning of court ship. Explains a series of incidents occurred the the second x wife was behaving badly. So she called her former childhood therapist Richard Gardner. He explained parental alienation. That’s where she said that the lightbulb went off. She reports either her or her husband called DCF on the second x wife because they felt her apartment was filthy and something about dog 💩 at the entry way of the apartment. DCF visited but found the house to not be unsuitable. There is much discussion about child support. Tax return being used to pay the second wife child back support owed to her or being kept by the state because support was not up to date. She has been trying to engage with the now adult children of her x for the second marriage. The children are unresponsive. Joan reports getting kicked out of musical shows and pushed down by her stepson. She has been avidly leading a group of people mostly dad’s who believe they were alienated. Wrongly accused of abuse in some cases. She working with many parental alienation court system vendors. All working to dominate the family court system with parental alienation claims. She was at one point a GAL but the judges were not having it. Would not assign her to cases. She is no longer on the list. She didn’t renew. She doesn’t have a professional license to practice. According to her account so she doesn’t get sued or face license revoked. Due to what she believes are vindictive parents who haven’t fallen down the stairs. Accused of parental alienation. She has worked diligently with Peter to bring alienation to the Connecticut courts since the hearing in 2014. Slightly bias perhaps due to personal experience? Has never advocated for abused children, unless she believes that they are being alienated and states it’s abuse by proxy. This is based on multiple interviews on the Internet. Has much to say about women in general. Appears to feel the majority in family court system reporting abuse or dysfunction are not telling the truth. 99 percent of the time per the information placed on her PSA website. I’m sure she has clients truly falsely accused of things. She doesn’t say much about false alligations of parental alienation. The need to protect children from sexual, physical or mental abuse from men. Appears to believe women are dangerous in most instances. This is what appears to be the situation allegedly based on the information on the internet.

  • Parental alienation is anyone who goes to court with or with out evidence expressing concerns about the other parent.

  • ” Your husbands behavior is reprehensible, however the judge is sympathetic to the father wanting to have a relationship with your daughter”

    • It is estimated that false allegations of abuse account for 79% of the cases doing family court proceedings( Ross, and blush 1990; Fergeson et al, 2018; Webb et al 2021)
      False allegation‘s or abuse or acts of aggression with the aim of permanently, severing the parent/child relationship. Parental alienating behaviors are acts of coercive control, and a serious form of child abuse, psychological child abuse. ( Harrman & Mathewson 2020)
      The most ruthless and evil act in the narcissist parents tool box. Usually committed by Narcissist Parent’s who also suffer from Borderline Personality & Aniti social personality disorders. There is no empathy for the damage it does to their own child, it’s is done purely to sever contact in the cruelest of ways.

  • Parental alienation = greed. These abusive and neglectful fathers. It’s about child support and spousal support. Ambrose was an absent father until he was fired. He didn’t have a change of heart 💕 and run home to help raise children. He is a control freak. He hates Karen and is using the children to get back at her.
    They were well taken care of and adjusted prior to the divorce. Children are not liars. Going on the run to stop being abused. The courts hidding substantiated abuse. It’s the gals and attorneys. It’s not a mistake. Real alienation is rare. Stockholm syndrome is what you call it. The Ambrose children don’t have Stockholm syndrome neither did the girls in this case. These mother’s are not dangerous. The father’s are. Custody and freedom from prosecution bought and paid for. The criminal court are not prosecuting abuse or properly investigating it. Because of money 💰.

    • only for the mentally distorted. For those who truly experience the effects of coercive practices on the children…. PA it is devastating.

      • For the mentality distorted? So those who don’t believe that these children were brainwashed by their mother are distorted? Labeling people alienators , some how mentally altered because we didn’t agree with you?

      • Are you a professional labeler? No didn’t read it don’t have to. Reading all these stories is enough to know what is happening. Do you have a financial investment in the use of parental alienation in family court? Are you at all interested in cleaning 🧼 up the court system? Are you interested in continuing to use parental alienation as a way to control family court cases? Parental alienation is a term used only in the family courts. It is rubber stamp on anyone who doesn’t agree.

      • I know all about it. Know all about the all out assault and attack on your character. With no evidence. It done by people who claiming to be alienated. Parental alienation is weapon in family court to distract the court from the abuse that is really occuring. It’s the fire cracker tossed in the middle of the court room to turn 🛞 the focus off the abuser and onto the victim. The label that opens the door to the never ending rat maze in family court. Parental alienation is what an abuser uses to gain power and control keeping you from moving on to peace and happiness. It’s used to gain leverage financially as well as subdue the other parent financially in family court. It’s an excuse for judges to make unsafe and unfair rulings in favor of the attorneys they favor. It’s the same thing that happens to people falsely accused of domestic violence. False claims of parental alienation are equally as devastating. False claims of parental alienation are just as malicious. It’s too bad the judges on the bench can’t or don’t want to figure out.

    • False allegation/ false claims of any sort such as DV , abuse , PA is GREED.
      The silve bullet practice of divorce is very common practice which sets the stage for PA to begin for financial gain and custody

      Begin punishment and consequences for false allegations of any sort equivalent to the punishment of the claim being made, and you’ll see how quickly unethical corrupt attorneys and their clients will diminish the amount of falsehoods in family court… you will see a decrease in false allegations of abuse. He will see a decrease in false allegations of PA and all the nuances that go along with these scenarios.
      But why would we do that? Why would that have not happen because… There is no money to be made for the scavengers a Family Court.

      • Yes. There would be no need to pass laws bringing funding into the state of Connecticut. Or any other states for that matter. Judge doesn’t have to make rulings they otherwise would not have to. We need to take the financial insensitive out of it. We need to remove gender bias language in agreements.

  • Parental alienation is the predators tactic: it’s about pedophilia access or furthering domestic violence and the feeling of entitlement not to pay child support. If theses men did not have to pay child support, they’d not seek custody less. They do not care about their children or their childhoods- only power and control. Courts oblige this. This guy paid nothing to pull ex wife and kids through hell- taxpayers did.

    • Stop with the crap about Parental Alienation of being real it, Israel yeah there’s some people abuse it and there’s some people that I’ve use the force alligation protocol to advance in divorce —-custody & financially

      Until you start making people accountable for false claims and allegations. You’re gonna have both ends of the spectrum is taking advantage of it. Bunch of horseshit.

      It is estimated that false allegations of abuse account for 79% of the cases doing family court proceedings( Ross, and blush 1990; Fergeson et al, 2018; Webb et al 2021)
      False alligation‘s or abuse or acts of aggression with the aim of permanently, severing the parent/child relationship. Parental alienating behaviors are acts of coercive control, and a serious form of child abuse, psychological child abuse. ( Harrman & Mathewson 2020)
      The most ruthless and evil act in the narcaccist parents tool box. Usually committed by Narcaccist Parent’s who also suffer from Borderline Personality & Aniti social personality disorders. There is no empathy for the damage it does to their own child, it’s is done purely to sever contact in the cruelest of ways.

      • This is the problem with the entire parental alienation ideology. Your comment. False allegations of abuse are not parental alienation. I don’t think you know what PA is. That’s not surprising since no one can agree exactly on a definition. What you did do is include about five meaningless labels like narcissist and coercive control, another terrible label as meaningless as PA. You still haven’t explained what PA is or why it is real.

          • So the bar association is defining a psychological condition? I see. Lawyers have decided their law license has psychology to the scope of practice. I don’t have to even read it. When the united nations has to step in you know you have a problem. Personal experience. Even when you are not diagnosed by a psychologist. Parental alienation is not proven theses Attorneys continue to use it. It’s a weapon. When the children don’t do or say what an abuser like Ambrose wants everyone’s life is miserable. The instability of the lives of the Ambrose children. Judge O’Neil your hunting three teenagers for removing themselves from a toxic dysfunctional environment. You are are attempting to punish a woman for a situation she has no control of. Ambrose had the kids for three years. You are family court judge now. You have an obligation to weigh all the facts. You are not. You may have the power to keep the madness going, you should not. Please do your Job. Best interest of the children. You should have never been placed on this case. We all know it. As a family court judges you should consider allowing the children back in the care of their mother. The insistence of forcing the children back is more harmful than good.

          • It’s a psychological term and you give me a legal website. Don’t send me to a site. Tell me what it is.

          • These so called symptoms describe the long term effects of being abused. They describe long term effects of being in a home with an alcoholic or drug addict. It’s a cover all and using parental alienation to explain any long term effects. Parental alienation is catch all cover all labeled/ diagnosis like failure to thrive. There is little effort to address the abusive parents relationship. I do believe that their are people who have made it their mission in life to bad mouth and target the other parent. I have seen it. I’ve witnessed a narrasistic parent effect and control and entire family into the next generation. The lack of effort on the behalf of the court system to make a proper diagnosis of the situation. We know what narrasistic abuse does to its victim. Parental alienation is being used ad a catch all irresponsible diagnosis like failure to thrive. An abusers dream. No one is more devastated than a mother who comes to learn that the father of their children is abusing their children. It’s a living nightmare. Imagine how much more damage is done when the court system doesn’t protect the children and attacks you. This happens on the daily in our nations family court.

        • Parental Alienation as a Form of Emotional Child Abuse:
          Current State of Knowledge and Future Directions for Research
          Edward Kruk, Ph.D.
          University of British Columbia
          https://www.familyscienceassociation.org › wp-content › uploads › 2021 › 07 › 2018-22-4-Parental-alienation-as-a-form-of-emotional-child-abuse_-KRUK.pdf
          PARENTAL ALIENATION 141 – Family Science Association

        • Labels. Here is how my sister in law discribed my x husband. The ingredients on the outside label aren’t what was actually inside the package 📦. I believe this holds true for many people labeled in family court. Labels. The label of parental alienation.

  • It’s all about the child support. Another false claim of parental alienation. The playbook.. Same old BS. Children on the run in America for court ordered torture. These courts do more harm to children than outing to the public. Storyline of the abuse in poligomist community is fair game for news coverage but family court is not. Children in trapped in cult community are fair game for the press to bring public awareness. The main News outlet should be able to report on court system. All you haters of the people reporting. Long live freedom of speech and the press. The world needs to know what is happening to children and people in family court.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

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