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Dixon’s Comptroller Arrested–Charged with Misappropriating $30Million

The Comptroller for the City of Dixon, Illinois 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 and more than $30 million since 2006.

Posted: 5:38 PM Apr 17, 2012
Reporter: From the Department of Justice

DIXON (WIFR) — The Comptroller for the City of Dixon 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 and more than $30 million since 2006.

58-year-old Rita Crundwell has been Dixon’s comptroller since the early 80’s. She’s well known in the community and breeds world champion horses on her ranch; someone most people couldn’t imagine embezzling $30 million dollars.

“I was dumbfounded, I was speechless (when I found out),” said Dixon resident Amy Jones.

But that’s exactly what the FBI says she did. She’s accused of stealing more than three million dollars of taxpayer money in just the last few months and more than $30 million since 2006.

Crundwell was arrested at city hall this morning, where FBI agents gathered evidence most of the day. Mayor James Burke reported Crundwell to authorities in the Fall.

FBI agents wouldn’t comment today on the complaint they received from Burke. But the complaint says in October, while Crundwell was on vacation, a Dixon city employee discovered an unknown bank account, one Crundwell allegedly used for her personal life.

Dixon resident Christopher Ray said, “It’s disheartening, I mean taxpayers they work hard for what they do.”

The FBI says Crundwell bought a $2 million motor home, a horse trailer and paid off $2.5 million on her credit card. They say she also bought at least 11 vehicles. It’s something that even surprised Dixon police.

Dixon Police Chief Dan Langloss said, “I just became aware of this this morning from the FBI. Those are all things that are being looked into, and the mayor will have the answers and will be speaking to the city.”

Mayor Burke will answer questions tomorrow at Dixon City Hall.

Crundwell was in federal court in Rockford today, where two U.S. marshals escorted her into the room in handcuffs. However the bond hearing was continued until tomorrow.


The Dixon City Council is meeting in executive session tonight to discuss the charges against their comptroller–the mayor, Jim Burke, will hold a news conference tomorrow at 10 am. 23 News Reporter Lauren Kravets is in Dixon and will have an updated report for you tonight.

DIXON (WIFR) — A Dixon city official is in jail tonight for fraud after allegedly embezzling 30-million dollars.

The comptroller, 58-year-old Rita Crundwell, was arrested by FBI agents in Dixon just hours ago today.

She’s been the comptroller since the early 1980s. She’s accused of taking more than, three million dollars in public funds since the fall and more than 30 million dollars since 2006. The Department of Justice says she used that money for a personal horses breading business and to buy a motor home, jewelry, and vehicles.

In fact today, agents seized; ten trucks and trailers and a thunder bird convertible. 23 News attended Crundwell’s bond hearing in federal court today–that’s where two U.S. Marshals escorted her in handcuffs. However, the assistant U.S. attorney asked for a continuance, she will be in court tomorrow.

Dixon Mayor James Burke reported Crundwell to authorities last fall after a city employee discovered another account.

That’s the account Crundwell allegedly used to misappropriate city money.

DIXON (WIFR) — The Comptroller for the City of Dixon 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 proceeds.

Crundwell is scheduled to appear at 3 p.m. today 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 Crundwell.”

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 pickup truck.

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, including a 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 reasonable doubt.

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37 replies »

  1. Typical Illinois politics! Corrupt! Our state is broke and the Governor still finds money for his favorite programs. How could no one in Dixon question where she was getting the money for all those toys! Dixon is a small town but come on, no one suspected her? Hmmmm!


    • I don’t know what this has to do with Illinois politics or the governor! Just sounds like a small town with very lax auditing procedures, This stuff happens more often than you would think, although not usually on such a grand scale). A trusted employee or often a volunteer and no checks and balances. Obviously a single person should never have control of the books.


  2. The AQHA is almost solely responsible for many greedy actions , but none any worse then the overbreeding and slaughter of innocent horses who dont meet their criteria ………….


    • How is the AQHA, or any other breed organization, responsible for the illegal activities of one of its members? That is akin to saying its McDonalds fault that your rear is 3x the size it should be. Reading other comments on here in regards to “breed ’em & dump ’em into the slaughter pipeline. Do you people realize that these horses are not the caliber of horse that is found at the local sale barn? These were top of the line, genetically engineered to be the best of the best. They are show horses, huge difference in the crap that is at the sale barn. A lot of her show and breeding string comes from her own stock. She breeds for them and shows them, then retires them to the breeding shed, Acoolest for example. Ms Crundwell owned and exhibited his dam to multiple world titles. I am in no way condoning her actions nor her behavior. If she is found guilty, then she deserves punishment that fits the crime.

      The horses are being cared for today the same way they were last week. The farm workers are still there feeding and caring for them. Just because her assets have been seized, and the stock are assets, does not mean they will not feed them. The gov’t will see to it they have the best of care until the trial ends and she is either found innocent or guilty. Another side to the coin is a complete dispersal sale, with the proceeds held until the outcome of the trial. And NO slaughter buyers will not be there enmass to purchase and ship these horses to slaughter. People from the show horse world will be there purchasing these horses, whenever that may be. Because when its all said and done, these horses are all superior animals. World and reserve world champions, wc/rwc producers, honor roll horses, etc. and show people will snap this stock up to put in their own programs. So stop all the idiotic blather about them going to slaughter. It won’t happen.


      • I said breedum’ and dumpum’. And how exactly do you think the equines that wind up in slaughter pens looked when they were born?…or how many are of good flesh, but slow, injured, sterile, gelding?….or how many are old?….and the list of reasons to slaughter are as long as can be.

        If this person can account for every equine she/he/it brought into the world…BRAVO! But some how, I doubt it. Your “caliber” argument is BULLSH*T! Just ask some great racehorses now standing in rescues across the US…bred to the nines, sold for thousands of dollars and now in a killpen.

        I also supported this cretin. I should she was innocent, until proven guilty.

        You are naive, ignorant and simply put, just don’t get it. As to your support of AQHA and every other PRO HCHS breed association, that my sad human means you are also an idiot.

        But please, keep enjoying the sunshine and butterflies that exude from AQHAs butt.


      • The AQHA has been over breeding horses for years the ones that dont meet their critiera get sent to slaughter, hoping they investigate them !!! also !!! Rita Grunwell is only the tip of the iceberg……………..


      • No idiotic blather here, but you do realize that predictions of what will or will not happen in the future are not statements of fact. They are predictions, many of them highly likely, but predictions nonetheless.


      • Reply to Amt:

        I don’t think people are saying that the horses in her barn will be sent to slaughter, we know they will be held as assets to be disbursed to satisfy her debt resulting from her thieving ways.

        And yes, you are considered innocent until proven guilty but the accusations speak for themselves, and they would not have brought the charges unless they were very sure of her guilt.

        As for the AQHA, well, they do not deserve any respect, they lost that a long time ago.


      • If you think the breeding of these horses will keep them from slaughter, you are very naïve. In the first place, many very bred horses…Ferdinand, a horse that won the Kentucky derby, was slaughters…the list goes on and on.

        Second you clearly aren’t familiar with what happens when the Feds seize all you assets….its very possible that these horses will need to be liquidated. Have you ever seen the feeding frenzy when assets are liquidated as the result of a high profile criminal case? I have…not pretty at all.

        Third, I spent a good portion of my adult life in the horse “industry” and I can tell you that the only difference between those high dollar horses and the ones at the local sale barn is all the hype and the fancy barn they are in to impress the unwashed masses that don’t know crap from shinola and whose only measure of a good horse from an average is how fancy the barn is and how good the owners line of bull sounds.


  3. I’m at a loss here. First of all the 2010 census reported 15,700 or so residents in Dixon so how could they have so much money that they wouldn’t miss $30,000,000? In such a small town didn’t someone notice these extravagant vehicles and wonder how the hell she was paying for them? City workers don’t make that kind of money and she would have to have a very large number of Champion grade horses and an outstanding breeding program to even come close to these numbers.

    This just boggles my mind


  4. All I know is it is one less greedy breeder dumping horses into the slaughter pipeline. I am concerned about the horses purchased with stolen money. What will become of them? They by law would be seized 😦


    • Yeah and the article never said anything about the horses. Only that she had a horse farm. Something we probably need to look into.


    • By Oregon law, if she is convicted, they would be seized and auctioned at public auction. Like the guy up in Montana last year.


  5. Doesn’t President Reagan have a connection with Dixon?

    As to the arrest and this breedum’ and dumpum’ troll…..innocent until proven guilty, folks.

    I’m more outraged at the breedum’ and dumpum’ part of her life, than the 30mil….especially because it peddles dirty meat for humans and cruelty to equines.

    And there are antislaughter folks that do crooked things too. Examples? Sen Ensign (R-NV) for starters; and Sen Byrd (D-WV) was always under the microscope, as was Sen Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Rep Charles Rangel (D-NY).

    Be careful folks…..


    • Yes, innocent until proven guilty but if they have been investigating this since Fall, you can bet they have made a solid case or they woud still be investigating. Since there seems to be no explanation for that account’s existance, it looks pretty bad for her. They should also be looking at why the mayor and city council had no safeguards in place. Seems like the citizens should be suing the city.


      • Yes, it doesn’t look good evidence-wise . I have very little faith in our judicial system, however.


  6. I’m never against people earning lots of money. But I live in a neighborhood where most live below the federal poverty line and most of us cannot afford health insurance, but we (almost) all of us work hard and try to get by. To have a $80k income (AGI) seems like it would be plenty to live a comfortable life on, so to me this is just plain greed -which is one of the 7 deadly sins


  7. When I look at the photo, I think to myself….where is that horse now? Where will it be in 3 years? How many equines has this disgusting breeder/horse owner sent to h*ll as dirty meat for human consumption?

    AQHA? You got an image problem.

    BTW, the Romney crew is attacking Obama for eating “dog” in Indonesia at 10 yo. Funny. Why aren’t they going after Huckabee eating horseflesh as an adult?


  8. it figgers! even my vet has something to say about the quarterhorse “Johnson” method of horsetraining. you wack the horse over the head with a 2 by 4 and that’s the “Johnson” method. aqha and apha suck!!!


  9. Again, it’s the cost to taxpayer’s and the welfare of our equines. Another very sad story that has a devasting effect, by one person’s greed.


  10. The folks in charge in Dixon must be as dumb as a box of rocks. How much money? Where were the safeguards and the controls? Who put her in the position to steal without being discovered? I am at a loss for words.

    Having worked in the banking industry for many years, I know that controls are the thing that keeps this from happening.
    In the old days, a lot of this type of thing went on, but then the banking industry wised up and instituted the bank examiners who came in unannounced and did complete examinations of all accounts, mortgages, etc.

    We also had in house safeguards and did surprise audits which caught many a light fingered teller or someone who thought they could scam the computer system.

    I hope that the horses that she “owns”, really the city of Dixon owns them…..will find good homes and will be treated well during all of the litigation.

    What a greedy b#@%*, I scrimped and saved just to go to shows in rented trailers. I wore second hand riding outfits and took care of all my horses myself in order to do what I loved. I would have given a lot to have a fancy trailer and barn and purebred horses, but I didn’t steal, so I made do with what I could afford.

    I hope they throw the book at her and she spends many years in jail.


  11. I’m sure this goes on in ALL governments at all levels, that’s why there’s no money for schools, infrastructure repairs, police officers, fire departments, public broadcasting, parks, planned parenthood, seniors, and all the other essentials. They are all embezzlers, including the BLM!


  12. So next!!! Let’s go after $alazar and Abbey for wasteing millions in taxpayers money and throwing thousands and thousands of horses into the $laughter pipline!!


  13. Heres a Gigantic reason to close AQHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Been waiting for this , These people all of them need to be held accountable for who knows how many senseless Slaughters of Horses, and Im betting there are many many more names going to be revealed here !!!! It is not going to be pretty, but who knows how much Pure Blood money was taken at the expense of the Beautiful innocent horses !!!!!!!! We are their voices now we will be heard !!!!!


    • What did the AQHA have to do with a person who stole 30 million dollars? NOTHING! The AQHA is a REGISTRY, not a breeding business. They are NOT responsible for the slaughter of any horses…the people who BRED them and don’t take care of them are, along with the idiots in Washington who have destroyed our economy so people can’t afford them any more are the responsible ones. It’s obvious that those of you who blame the AQHA or any other registry and not the people who are truly at fault have zero critical thinking or reasoning abilities.


  14. I wonder how many AQHA officials and judges she “treated to dinner or gifts” to earn those championships? Don’t even try to tell me that they don’tbecause I’ve had an AQHA OFFICIAL and Judge who was highly placed in the organization tell me in his own truckthat this is very commonplace. I have no reason to make this up because I don’t show at that level. All I did was bring his dog to him, and I picked up a mare and foal from him that he transported for me.

    All I know is this, the more money you’ve got to spend on the horses the more they think you’ve got to spend. Plus they, meaning the other competitors, will do ANYTHING to win! I have a dear friend who had 2 horses at the Word Show injured before their events just because 1. the rider didn’t want to ride the mare so he hit the mare with a ballpein hamer in the frog of her hoofwhich should have put her down for life and the AQHA did NOTHING! and 2. the second was by her rening trainer who was riding another horse that was for sale so he snatched her horse so hard that it pinched a nerve in his neck and he could never be ridden again just so his horse could win the class and the championship and he could get the “big bucks” for his horse.

    So you see, I’m quite well versed on AQHA trainers, owners, officials and judges. Plus if I told you what they, meaning the Organization did to me because of a lie that a person told Them about a horse I sold to her that violated their rule, “We don’t get involved in dealings between owners and buyers.” HA! That’s a joke! But I won’t go there.

    I’m sure that this lady will get a fair and just trial as everyone in the United States is presumed innocent until proved guilty. I’m also sure that her horses will be taken care of until her case is closed and settled. BUT as we all know, things happen and foals don’t always come out the way we expect and who knows where they went. So to the naive lady from above, please please do more research as there have been some very well known Quarter Horses that have gone to slaughter as well and I can tell you this, I may be wrong but I don’t think so, there has never been a Quarter Horse Stallion that has ever sold for as much money as poor Ferdinand, the great Thorobred stallion who was sent to stand at stud in Japan and when he could no longer perform, instead of sending him back home to the US, they sent him to slaughter. So please, please think on this for a long, long time!


  15. Three major victims here. ONE: The horses and that goes without saying. To put them in harms way by such careless and reckless behavior is sad indeed. Yes top AQHA folks or others may step in at the time of auction, but Rita was gearing up for a 100 head dispersal sale in July…her annual sale. How many would that have left after the sale and what will happen to those that would NOT have been sold at this auction? TWO: The good people of Dixon that work in day to day businesses in the town and surrounding county. THREE: The people that worked for Rita and for those horses… stalls, grooming horses, driving the trucks, delivering the feed, vet checks, shoeing and trimming by farriers. Some of them will find new jobs, some of them may have other clients they can rely on, some of them will be forever deemed as tainted having worked for such a dishonest and unconscious breeder and shower (at least from the stand point of where her money was coming from). To be me it does not necessarily reflect on the AQHA at the moment UNLESS they find that judges or other top officials palms have been fattened along the way. What a story……WOW!


    • She is a thief and the AQHA are blockheads, they don’t have to be related to her crimes, they are just irresponsible horseowners, an irresponsible organization, and over- breeders, and they get no respect from me.

      The people that worked for her must have wondered at some point, unless they thought she was an heiress, where does she get all that money? No, everyone around her just went on feeding from the gravy train as long as it lasted. They didn’t steal the money, but they benefitted from her crimes.

      If you can do elementary math, you can add up the expense of running that farm against the amount of money she would get from horse sales and whatever enterprises she had going and see that it adds up to RED INK. Her salary couldn’t cover all the purchases and expenses that woman incurred. There were an awful lot of people in Dixon with blinders on.


  16. Heres Horse business right in our face !!!!! Horses are exploited , here, this will be the example , wondering if they will investigate AQHA,!!!!! Wonder if they will investigate BLM, Dept of the Interior and Ken Salazar, and all those corrupted exployters??????


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