Jig Is Up for Controller of Small Town

     CHICAGO (CN) – A federal grand jury accused the former comptroller of Dixon of stealing more than $53 million from the small town and spending the money on her horse breeding business and a luxurious lifestyle.
     Rita Crundwell, 59, had been comptroller of Dixon, a town of 16,000 about 100 miles west of Chicago, since 1983. She managed all of the town’s finances.
     The 6-page indictment includes a demand for forfeiture of 32 pieces of property and equipment, including a horse farm and two houses in Dixon, a house in Florida, 80 acres in Lee County, whose seat is Dixon, 11 trucks and automobiles, including a Corvette, two boats, a $2.1 million luxury motor home, seven horse trailers, and $225,000 from two bank accounts.
     From 1990 to 2012, Crundwell “used her position as comptroller at the City of Dixon to cause funds to be wired from the City of Dixon’s Money Market account to the City of Dixon’s Capital Development Fund account, as well as to various other City of Dixon accounts at Fifth Third Bank,” according to the indictment.
     “It was further a part of the scheme that defendant used the City of Dixon funds … to pay personal and private business expenses, including expenses relating to defendant’s horse farming operations, personal credit card payments, and the purchases of real estate and vehicles.
     “It was further a part of the scheme that defendant created fictitious invoices purported to be from the State of Illinois to show the auditors for the City of Dixon that the funds that defendant was fraudulently depositing into the RSCDA account were being used for a legitimate purpose.
     “It was further a part of the scheme that, in order to conceal her fraudulent scheme, defendant falsely told the Mayor and members of the City Council for the City of Dixon that the State of Illinois was late in its payments to the City of Dixon, when in fact, as defendant already well knew, she had fraudulently transferred those funds to the RSCDA account for her own use. …
     “It was the object of this scheme for defendant to fraudulently obtain more than $53,000,000 from the City of Dixon.”
     The government also filed a forfeiture complaint against Crundwell’s horse breeding business, RC Quarter Horses, which keeps 311 registered quarter horses on two ranches.
     “The government is pursuing both criminal and civil forfeiture proceedings to ensure that every available tool is being used to recover proceeds of the alleged fraud in order to recoup as much money as possible for the City of Dixon, its residents and taxpayers,” U.S. Attorney General Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement.
     If convicted of wire fraud, Crundwell faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the amount she stole.

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