Auction of Horses From Indicted City Comptroller Earns Almost $5 Million


Now that the most expensive assets to manage, the horses, have been sold, the Wojdylo said the U.S. Marshals Service can focus on the other assets, which include jewelry, vehicles and land. Wojdylo said one of her farms, which spans 80 acres, may be worth $800,000 alone.

Dixon has a population of 15,733, according to the U.S. Attorneys Office, and a budget of $8 million to $9 million a year. Crundwell, who handled all finances for the city, allegedly had access to an account that was unknown to Dixon's Mayor James Burke.

Burke said a new comptroller has been hired by the city and Crundwell is undergoing due process from both the federal and state court system. Last week, a Lee County grand jury returned a 60 count indictment against Crundwell on state charges that she embezzled almost $11 million in city money since January 2010.

For a city with a budget between $8 million to $9 million, stealing $53 million is "hard for people to figure out around here."

Crundwell is accused of moving funds from the city's various bank accounts through a series of wire transfers and checks payable to "Treasurer," and depositing them into the unknown account from which she withdrew money for her own personal and business expenses.

The unknown account was held by the City of Dixon, but an entity called "RSCDA," was also listed. Checks written from this account were in 'C/O Rita Crundwell,'" the U.S. Attorney's office said.

Using her allegedly ill-gotten funds, Crundwell paid $450,000 in expenses related to her horse farming operations, including $200,000 of expenses for feeding, insuring and providing veterinary care for her horses; $600,000 in online credit card payments for unspecified purchases; and $67,000 to purchase a 2012 Chevy Silverado pickup truck last November, the U.S. Attorney General's office in Illinois said.

Crundwell received four weeks of paid vacation annually and she took an additional 12 weeks of unpaid vacation in 2011, according to the complaint.

While she was away in October, her replacement reviewed the city's bank statements and discovered the unknown account and informed the mayor.

After being in federal custody in Illinois after her arrest, she was released on bond.

One of the best horse breeders in the world, Crundwell's Meri-J Ranch in Beloit, Wis., produced more than 50 world champions, according to the American Quarter Horse Association, the Chicago Tribune reported. The ranch stabled about 150 horses, the court complaint states.

Crundwell is also accused of fraudulently obtaining city funds to make other purchases, including a 2009 Liberty Coach Motor Home for $2.1 million, 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 allegedly used city funds to spend more than $2.5 million on her personal American Express credit card account, including more than $339,000 on jewelry, spending an average of over $5,380 a month.

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