A mother accused of helping her two teenage daughters run away from their Lakeville home continues to be held on $1 million bail after a hearing Monday where her attorney urged a judge to set her free.
Sandra Grazzini-Rucki was arrested on Oct. 18 at a Florida resort and spa on three charges of felony deprivation of parental rights. Her daughters, Gianna and Samantha, were 13 and 14 when they ran away from their Lakeville home in April 2013.
Returned to Minnesota last week, Grazzini-Rucki, 50, had a bail hearing on Friday, after being extradited on Thursday, but her attorney, Michelle MacDonald, was not present.
Judge Karen Asphaug lifted the bail, and then gave each side a new chance to argue their case.
Prosecutor Phil Prokopowicz again asked for $1 million bail. He acknowledged the large amount, given the charges, but argued that it took nine weeks for federal authorities to find Grazzini-Rucki, that she has ID cards in two states, and that she uses prepaid cellphones to avoid being tracked.
MacDonald, who has been named by Lakeville police as “a person of interest” in the case of the missing girls, argued that Grazzini-Rucki should be released on her own recognizance.
She said her client was homeless, and offered that if she was released she would live with her.
Asphaug set the bail at $1 million, agreeing with Prokopowicz that Grazzini-Rucki presents a flight risk. She can also be released if she pays a $650,000 bail, but with restrictions, such as home monitoring.
Grazzini-Rucki’s next hearing has been set for Nov. 30, at which MacDonald said she will argue that charges should be dismissed.
The sisters ran from their home while their parents were in the midst of a bitter custody dispute over their five children. The girls had accused their father of abusing them, but a court-appointed psychologist concluded that Grazzini-Rucki had turned her children against their father. A Dakota County judge granted the father full custody of his children in November 2013, saying there was no credible evidence that they were abused.
Brandon Stahl • 612-673-4626