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
In addition to the obvious, I can't help but wonder what was going through her mind when she would stand for her win pictures and pose for the cover of national magazines. It's sad that people idolized her. I think the people who have competed against her have more than a right to be angry. She has made a mockery of qh competition and those who try to do the best they can with what they have and still live within their means. I think most of us could do pretty well on a salary of $80,000. I know I could. All I want is one world champion in my life time. But I'll do it the old fashion way...work my butt off!! But if it doesn't happen I'll still go to my grave knowing I did my best without hurting anyone else.
There are still minions out there defending her and her breeding program. Give me a break. Hey, slip me $30 mill to tinker with and I can build a helluva breeding program too. Ridiculous. Some people simply have no scruples.
Get your heads out of RC's backside folks. And if you knew what was going on, then shame on you too.
Increasing fees, etc at horse shows is a dumb idea. People already are strapped enough with AQHA fees as they are now! But, all the proceeds from "Madam Maddoff's" liquidation sale should go to the citizens of Dixon to give their town a boost. I can't believe that any town official didn't have any idea about this thievery~~come on~~ 30 million dollars and no one notices??
I cant wait for the AUCTION SALE of everything you have spend stolen money on Tack, Horses trucks car horse trailer cloths everything FOR YOU RITA to know what it feels like to lose everything like what you have done to the people of Dixon . PS i will be the first one at that sale to buy so Dixon can get back some of there money .
John Boxell, VP of the IL Quarter Horse Assoc states "she was very good for our horse economy". "She helped alot of guys struggling in the business, trainers. She spent a lot of money with vendors". He goes on to say "It makes no difference where your money comes from.
WHAT! She was good for the horse economy? On alot of other people's money! Get real! Those dollars she so generoulsy handed over to "help", belonged to the city of Dixon. And where did those dollars come from? Alot of people that worked for their money, paid their taxes and lived with in their means to make it through a struggling economy. It was not the responsibilty of the people of Dixon to keep the horse industry going in a bad economy or fund Rita Crundwell. Don't tell me how much good she did with stolen money.
Here's a thougth...let's add a tax to the entry fee's at the AQHA shows until the people of Dixon are paid back the money that she took. Or increase the fee for having a show, or take a portion of the judges salaries or maybe increase the stall fees at the show, or camping fees, or charge a gate fee, increase the office fees. There are number of places to get money to help her, after all who cares where the money comes from the people of Dixon are going to do a lot of good with it and it will help their city vendors and the struggling workers of Dixon.
Come on John....start passing the hat at those shows to help a good cause.....the sooner the folks of Dixon get paid back the better, and then you can start on her legal fees. After all..."It shouldn't make a difference where the money comes from" and she can keep those titles her horses won too....can't opperate city goverment on world show titles.
Showing & Breeding for years on our own personel income, we realized how hard it was to compete with people like this. Rita is not the only one that has taken advantage for their own personel gain. There are many in the horse industry that would try to benefit from the little guy. Sorry AQHA but this is one of the reasons I why I quit the industry.