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
I'm shocked at how low the bond is. Why was no one questioning why she had such expensive equipment and horses on such a low salary. Granted if I made 80K a Year I would be able to live and show within my means. This is what GREED looks like. I too wonder how she could sleep at night knowing she was ripping off the city of Dixon where my uncle and aunt have lived for over 10 years. But I think Dixon needs to take some responsiblity here too, why was there no over site committee appointed for the city. Why were there not two signatures required on ALL city transactions, a whole lot of trouble could have been avoided. I don't think the mayor should resign he did turn it over to the sherrif but he should revoke her pay since last fall though. And AQHA should be involved in this there are horses here that were registered with illgotten money, sold and transfered etc. THere is a huge paper trail that a forensic accountant has to go through. WHEW what a mountain that will be. Well thats my soap box.
This kind of thing happens all the time. You only hear about it when it happens to a community because it's public money.
When it happens to a business or non-profit they often keep quiet. They don't report it because they don't want the negative publicity. They just quietly fire the person and send them on their way.
If you see someone living lavishly and they're not a rock star, you should probably question where their wealth comes from. Perhaps it comes from an inheritance or legitimate source, but it's quite likely that it doesn't. Especially in the horse business, where people like to put on the "veneer" of wealth.
it,s sad that someone would want fame so much that they would steal from their home town & people she knew all her life.I hope people don"t judge the rest of the areas horse people, because we have some fine saddle clubs & alot of kids that show and do well in competition and its all from hard work.Not from money to pay trainers to do the work for them. This is a sad day for Dixon,il and why did they let her continue to work for months after this was brought to the Mayors attention??? She was able to take 3 more million in these past few months.The Mayor needs to step down and a clean sweep needs to take place .
In an industry where the wealthy are rewarded every day. No one should be surprised that someone has lowered themselves to this level to pay the bills. This is a perfect example of just how much an advantage it is to have an unlimited budget when you want to play in the horse business, and a perfect example of exactly how little money can be made legitimately in the horse business. The Aqha should obviously give the donated money back to the town of Dixon. I myself am extremely upset by this, her illegal use of funds brought her power and the national awards to go with it. What about the small owner or horse trainer who puts every cent of their money, and their heart and sole and live as efficiently as they can so that they can continue to survive in the horse industry. Her actions, and her awards, and everything about her very existence in the horse industry is a slap in the face to those individuals.
How does someone justify stealing from others ? How does this woman sleep at night? I am just wondering what other states have people like Rita. Skimming off the hard working people of their county. How long did Rita think this could go on? How did this all get over looked for so long? I am so sorry for the people of Dixon, they should demand answers and hopefully recover some of there losses.
I am appaled no one is thinking of the people of Dixon. I am not judgeing her or anyone but lets stop and think of all that the town of Dixon has lost in this. wheather she did it or not will be for someone else to judge. I also fear for all the mare owners who will be needing papers for their 2013 foals and all the mare owners who have mares there. Titles for others loose them in controversy look at Pete Rose he lost his hall of fame for things he did with his own money. But first lets think of the hard working people of Dixon and lets lay some blame on the people who were supposed to monitor the funds and audits they are at blame as well. Horay for the one who found this but the people of Dixon still are the ones who lost..
I live on the other side of the world and admired this women for years, but also always wondered where did she get her money from, If I had known she worked I would have been thinking 'SERIOUSLY' something is not right here! how on earth can someone get away with this for so long!..Friends, family her husband?? or partner, someone must have thought hmmm
Secondly give anyone of us 30million and watch us win!!, money buys top horses, top trainers that make it happen and when u own so many fancy things and get in so much advertising and put on the fancy show parties, you also get a lot of respect and well known with the judges...Very unfair thing she has done to all her fellow competitiors and friends, I read everyone saying she is a lovely lady, but she has been paying her way the whole time to beat all the people that say how lovely she is, so lovely the local kids had the pool shut down in the town, cause there were no funds! yep she is just a gem!!
I look at all my wins and I dont need to compare them to my hero Rita anymore, I won everything and all my titles far and square! with my own hard well earned cash, when I win, my tears and grin is thru MY hard work with MY money, and no one can ever take my horses, wins or memories away there all mine, they dont below to a town of people I ripped off!
Finally I see her pics winning all her world titles walking away with the trophies over her arm, and I think to myself now, looking at her face in the photos, do u for a second think, this is amazing I never want it to stop, hope I never get caught, can she sleep at night? I really dont think if I had such amazing horses and things, and fell into that lifestyle, I for one would spend everyday and night worrying that one day i am going to loose all of this, and of course the guilt that goes with it would not make for a peaceful life. Possibly this is a relief for her, because Rita, I dont know how u slept at night...