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
Rita Crundwell paid $0 dollars to be released from prison. She was released in Rockford Illinois on a $4500 Recognizance Bond which means she has to pay nothing unless she gets into trouble while out on release, and then she would have to pay the $4500. She is limited to travel in Northern Illinois and Western Wisconsin. She can not access a bank account in Minnesota and a bank account in Ohio which she used to do the illegal wire transfer for which she is charged. She still may have full access to any other bank account whether known or hidden from the FBI.
Where is all this talk about stripping her of the titles she earned within AQHA and other affiliated associations coming from and why does it matter?? The concern should be for the welfare of the estimated 400 some head of horses she has in her name, she has no job now, no current means of income (seeing as how she lost her job). I'm sure every outside trainer that has horses in their barn are sending them on a one way trip to her farms. This means she will have more to take care of and her help will most likely have to be dismissed because she has no means to pay them to help her. The other concern should be for the citizens of Dixon. They have went without while she indulged her personal wants and needs.
There should be no prayers for her. All she did was financed illegally. The horses should ALL retain their titles. I hope AQHA takes away her titles, but who knows. It might be best just forgotten. Take care of her customers, make sure they get what they paid for. She will go to jail, never to receive the glory of winning again. She WILL pay in so many ways. She will not be able to feel pride for what she did any longer. I do not feel sorry for her. What she did was terrible. But I am sure she will pay in many ways, emotionally being the most important, I am reasonably sure Dixon will get back money. I do feel sorry for her trainer, I doubt he had any knowledge of what she was doing. I do regret the pallor this will cast upon horse ranches in general, I did it, I know how tough it is. This part of it is unfortunate, and I fully hope she pays dearly for what she did.
It sure certainly appeared she did the horse industry a lot of good; however, the fact remains it was with stolen money. I don't care if the money comes from drug deals or it's stolen, this image does NOT promote the horse industry. The townspeople of Dixon are who I feel sorry for.
This mornings newspaper for the 4th day in a row stars Rita Crundwell. Headlines say "Some call for titles to be stripped". The paper reads: 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. We probably have had people who get their money from the drug business. There's nothing there that if you get convicted, they can strip you of your titles."
I have a son with special needs and I have read how horse therapy can do wonders for these kiddos. We use to drive to her horse ranch often and sit along side of the road and just admire her horses. They seemed to calm my son. I hope the animals are properly placed. The City of Dixon is very saddened to have such a corrupt person in our evergrowing community. She may want to run for Governor....our odds aren't so well there either.
Perpetual Prince.... Need I say more?? Her corruption has been going on forever. After learning all of this can you honestly say she did not know the truth about the horse but thought she could get away with it?? Money talks and I am sure the Well's needed the money at the time so went against their better judgement to get by. Thankfully she did not get away with that one at the time. I still find it a shame what happened to them because of this woman. I am not saying they are innocent either. In this situation she cannot just pass the buck onto someone else and make it out free an clear.
According to information so far this has been going on since 2006, wonder if any funds were ever deposited back to Dixon after she held her big production sales? The old "Rob Peter to Pay Paul" routine.
How does someone transfer $3 mill and no one is checking on it and how does a small town recover from the loss of key things such as firefighters and policemen. Not to mention the children who could more then likely used that pool during their summer break. Not a bad person well I beg to differ someone who takes from children to lavish their own lifestile is NOT A GOOD PERSON. How can someone smile and enjoy their life knowing the deceat going on... Think
HAS ANYONE PICKED UP ON THE FACT THAT THE TOWN OF DIXON HAS NOT BEEN ABLE TO OPEN THEIR CITY POOL FOR THE KIDS FOR SEVERAL YEARS!! RITA IS A BAD PERSON!! A THIEF!
SHE'S BUYING EVERYTHING, WITH STOLEN MONEY! AND GIVING AWAY $25,000.00 AT THE CONGRESS AND THE WORLD FOR THE TOP PLACING ENTRY FROM HER STALLIONS. I MEAN THE TAXPAYERS' OF DIXON STALLIONS
The bond seems low but remember that the FBI seized her stuff - a bus, semis, an SUV, a trailer, jewelry, and probably all her paperwork. I live near her farm and the horses are still there and being taken care of, but their value resides in the papers that the AQHA administers.