ROCKFORD – Longtime Dixon Comptroller Rita A. Crundwell is free on a $4,500 recognizance bond, prohibited from selling any horses or other property while her wire fraud case proceeds in federal court, a judge ruled this afternoon.
Crundwell, who has horse ranches in Dixon and Beloit, Wis., can travel in northern Illinois and to her Wisconsin property, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mahoney said. She also must surrender her state Firearm Owner's Identification card.
Crundwell, 58, was arrested Tuesday morning at City Hall and charged with a single count of wire fraud. She is accused of defrauding the city by wiring $175,000 in city funds from a bank in St. Paul, Minn. to a bank in Cincinnati for her own use in November.
In an affidavit filed in support of the charge, federal agents say Crundwell misappropriated more than $30 million in city funds since 2006 to finance her own "lavish lifestyle."
Agents raided Crundwell's Dixon home, both horse properties and City Hall on Tuesday, presumably looking for evidence of misdeeds, and confiscated several vehicles, including a $2.1 million motor home.
Crundwell has handled the city's finances since the early 1980s. At a news conference earlier today, Mayor Jim Burke said Crundwell will be placed on administrative leave without pay, pending a vote by the council.
She has a status hearing scheduled for May 7.
ROCKFORD — The Comptroller for the City of Dixon, Ill., was
arrested today by FBI agents on a federal charge for allegedly defrauding the
City of Dixon of more than $3.2 million in public funds since just last fall. In addition, a federal criminal
complaint alleges that the defendant, Rita A. Crundwell, 58, of Dixon, has misappropriated
more than $30 million in city funds since 2006 to finance her own lavish
lifestyle, including operating a horse farm.
Crundwell handles all finances for the city and has held the
appointed position of Dixon comptroller since the early 1980s. She is paid an annual salary of
$80,000, according to the complaint charging her with one count of wire fraud
that was filed last Friday and unsealed today following her arrest.
Also today, agents executed search and seizure warrants at
various locations including, Crundwell’s home, office, and farms in Dixon and
Beloit, Wis., and seized the contents of two bank accounts she controlled. Among other items seized were seven
trucks and trailers, three pickup trucks, a $2.1 million motor home, and a Ford
Thunderbird convertible, all of which were allegedly purchased with illegal
Crundwell is scheduled to appear at 3 p.m. today (Tuesday) before U.S.
Magistrate Judge P. Michael Mahoney in U.S. District Court in Rockford, where
the issue of bond will be addressed. Dixon has a population of approximately 15,733 and is located
in Lee County, about 42 miles southwest of Rockford. The arrest was announced
by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of
Illinois, and Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-In-Charge of the Chicago Office of
the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Dixon Mayor James Burke reported Crundwell to law
enforcement authorities last fall after a city employee assumed Crundwell’s
duties during Crundwell’s extended unpaid vacation. After reviewing bank statements for September 2011 through
March 2012, the FBI expanded the investigation and began reviewing the city’s
finances dating back to 2006. The investigation is continuing, officials said.
According to the complaint, Crundwell receives four weeks of
paid vacation annually and she took an additional 12 weeks of unpaid vacation
in 2011. In October last year,
while Crundwell was away from work, a Dixon employee who served as her
replacement requested all of the city’s bank statements. After reviewing them, the employee
brought the records of a particular account to Mayor Burke’s attention. The September 2011 statement for that
account showed three deposits totaling $785,000, as well as 84 checks drawn
totaling $360,493, and 40 withdrawals totaling $266,605. Mayor Burke was unaware that this
account existed, the complaint states, adding that he then went to law
enforcement since none of the withdrawals appeared to be related to any
legitimate business of the City of Dixon. Although the bank records show that the primary account
holder is the City of Dixon, a joint account holder is listed as RSCDA, and the
checks written on this account list the account holder as “R.S.C.D.A., C/O Rita
The City of Dixon maintains numerous bank accounts,
including a Capital Development Fund. Between September 2011 and February 2012,
approximately $2,783,912 in various tax funds were electronically deposited
into one of the City’s accounts. Crundwell
allegedly caused these funds to be moved around to other bank accounts held by
the city, and eventually transferred most of these monies into the Capital
Development Fund account. Between
September 2011 and March 2012, in her capacity as comptroller, Crundwell wrote
19 checks totaling $3,558,000 on the Capital Development Fund account payable
to “Treasurer,” and deposited these checks into the account listing RSCDA as
the joint account holder. She then
allegedly took $3,311,860 from the RSCDA account by checks and online withdrawals,
using only $74,274 for the city’s operations. Crundwell allegedly used the remainder of those funds, more
than $3.2 million, for her own personal and business expenses, including
approximately $450,000 relating to her horse farming operations, $600,000 in
online credit card payments, and $67,000 to purchase a 2012 Chevy Silverado
After discovering that Crundwell allegedly had recently
transferred $3,558,000 in city funds to the RSCDA account, the FBI obtained
additional bank records showing that between July 2006 and March 2012,
Crundwell allegedly deposited a total of $30,236,503 in city funds into the
RSCDA account, and paid out more than $30 million for her own personal and
business expenses. The complaint
alleges that she used fraudulently obtained funds to make additional purchases,
includinga 2009 Liberty Coach Motor Home for $2,108,000, a 2009 Kenworth T800
Tractor Truck for $146,787, a 2009 Freightliner Truck for $140,000, a 2009
Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck for $56,646, and a 2009 Featherlite Horse
Trailer for $258,698. Between
January of 2007 and March of 2012, Crundwell incurred charges of more than $2.5
million on her personal American Express credit card account, including more
than $339,000 on jewelry alone, and allegedly used Dixon funds to pay the
entire amount of charges.
Wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison,
and a $250,000 fine, or an alternate fine totaling twice the loss or twice the
gain, whichever is greater. If
convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes
and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney
Joseph C. Pedersen. The public is
reminded that a criminal complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of
guilt. The defendant is presumed
innocent and is entitled to an indictment by a federal grand jury and a fair
trial at which the government has the burden of proving her guilt beyond a
Just think of everyone who tried to beat her horses and what their horses had to endure. To some trainers horses are disposable and if they don't hold up and breakdown they just get another one and try again. I'm sure many a horse went through hell trying to beat Rita's.
How is it that when you recieve stolen property you dont get to keep it so isnt her titles just that stolen. The horse industry is in as bad a place as it has ever been with more people in the world today and less farms and no one honestly makein money hands over fist unless you are a comtroller lol. Someone talks of taxing fees at shows or extra fees why make the little guy pay for what she did? The little guy who shows up to every show he can "he can" with what money he has is the true champion! I wish she could be put out on a road crew working for the city of Dixon to repair their roads and mow the roadways and see just what it is like to truelly work for what you get. AQHA is charging us "the little guy enough he can barely make it now" I am a little guy and I know the cost of showing at Congress and Worlds I was there this year at both and let me just say this it is appauling to think some still defend her. To steal from children and her town to lavish her own self being and the status she has is just sickning! Those poor people of Dixon who lost homes and jobs and who knows what else are well amazing to keep going and for her to "donate $25000 at worlds and congress" isnt the people of Dixon who donated it and the ones who lost jobs and homes and families. How can the Ill Aqha say she did so much she used stolen money to do this while the people of her town went without . Rita did a terrible thing to steal from her own town her own people to get world titles a piece of wood and a picture in a magazine wow and kids were over come with heat for they had no pool wake up people!
If you add up what you really spend to do the weekend circuits every weekend and what you would spend doing 1 10 day a month, you would be surpirsed to see ur really spending just about the same money. I show nationailly, have my horse with a "big name" trainer and do it all for less then 30k a year. When I did it on my own, had my horses boarded at a barn and worked them every night myself, and showed every weekend I spent closer to 40k a year just on showing with less results. You just have to pick what you can and can't do.
As far as Rita she can burn for all I care for what she did. She took our orginaistion and put it in a negitive light.
The reason no one knew is because she was the comptroller and the treasurer for the city of Dixon. The state of Illinois requires a yearly audit on the books, which costs $25,000 and they couldn't find the embezzlement either.
In a small town like Dixon, people still believe in trusting a person. We still believe in the person that has grown up in our community and has worked with the same people for over 20 years has morals. It's difficult in any situation of trust- after trusting someone for 20 years, and then told that they really are not who they say they are, is difficult to take.
I agree checks and balances were not done and they should have been, but, very rarely does anyone question someone they trust.
Does anyone else think all of Rita's Amatuer/Select world champions , congress champions, and any other amatuer points and wins from 2006-2012 should be taken away? She didn't pay for any of those entries, the city of Dixon did!!!!!!!!!!! Let the people that worked hard for THEIR money have those titles.Oh yeah! This would only apply if she is guilty!!!!!! LMAO
All these people sticking up for Rita need to step back and look at reality ... the woman was STEALING millions of OUR money for her own personal gain ... she did nothing but make the horse show world look worse then society already makes it look. I hope you look good in an Orange Jump suit Rita, Federal prison has a cot with your name on it.
Anyone still standing up for her is just as pathetic as she is. All of her wins mean nothing now that we know the truth. I'm sure I could have an impressive breeding program if I stole thirty million dollars as well. She is a poor excuse of a human and deserves everything she gets and more.
Today this thief was fired from her position (after attempting to submit a letter of resignation because she could no longer hold fiduciary duties per FBI) - Did she really think she was going to get off that easy? Please!!!!! By firing her she will lose her pension - after 30 years that would have been a substantial sum of money - oops - but not $30 mil. Hopefully, this thief will have to pay-the-piper.
Surely, she could not have thought she could get away with this. This was an addiction that finally caught up with her and now she'll hit rock-bottom. To all the folks in Dixon - may you be able to get some of your money back. I'll bet there are other folks involved as well. Imagine how this money could have helped the town and its citizens - less unemployment, less taxes, less foreclosures. Rita Crundwell should be forced to wear the scarlet letter. And to AQHA - this organization (and any others associated with Crundwell) should rescind all recognition from HER and ban her from all associations and breeding/owning/showing horses forever. She is a disgrace to AQHA and all the competitors who shown "within" their means. This exactly why AQHA can't get the little guy - it has become a "BIG MONEY" game meant only for millionaires. Take a look at the showring attire - it's not showing a horse it's who sitting on the back of a horse, who wears the best in fashion, and who is "blinged" out the best nevermind that the small week-end shows are far and few between - who can afford the 10-day circuits and travel expenses. The money-grabbers in the industry think they are owed everything when in fact it was the little guy years ago that made you who you are today. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES!!!!!!