Dixon comptroller charged with stealing millions in public funds - FOX 32 News Chicago

Dixon comptroller charged with stealing millions in public funds

Updated: Apr 17, 2012 21:21 PM CDT
CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

The comptroller of Dixon was arrested and charged Tuesday for allegedly stealing more than $30 million in city funds since 2006 to furnish her lavish lifestyle, which included a horse farm, seven tractor-trailer trucks and a $2.1 motor home, according to a federal complaint.


Rita A. Crundwell, 58, of Dixon, was charged with one federal count of wire fraud filed last Friday in U.S. District Court of Rockford and unsealed Tuesday following her arrest.

Dixon is about 42 miles southwest of Rockford with a population of approximately 15,733, the complaint said.

Crundwell has held the appointed position of Dixon comptroller since the early 1980s and handles all finances for the city, the complaint said. She earned an annual salary of $80,000.

Dixon Mayor James Burke reported Crundwell to law enforcement authorities last fall after another employee filled in for Crundwell who had an extended unpaid vacation, the complaint said.

It was discovered that Crundwell was allegedly stealing city funds through an unknown city bank account, the complaint said.

On Tuesday, the mayor called an emergency meeting of the city council to discuss the fraud.

"This is a traumatic event that this city and this council are experiencing, "said Burke. "I will be making a recommendation to the council on taking steps that will ensure that this will never happen again."

Since last fall, it is believed that Crundwell embezzled more than $3.2 million, the complaint said. She used only $74,274 of the funds for city operations. The rest was used for her own expenses, including approximately $450,000 for her horse farm, $600,000 in online credit card payments, and $67,000 to by a 2012 Chevy Silverado pickup truck.

Since 2006, Crundwell allegedly use $30,236,503 in city funds for her own use, the complaint said. Her purchases included: 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.

People in Dixon are understandably outraged to learn the allegations.

"I'm just totally ticked that she was able to get away with this. They have auditing firms that check the books. Where are they at?" asked Dixon resident, Carole Fischer. "The have a treasurer on the city council where was he at? I mean how could someone do this for this many years and take that much money and get away with it? It's outrageous."

Between January 2007 and March 2012, Crundwell allegedly used city funds to pay more than $2.5 million on her personal American Express credit card account, including more than $339,000 in jewelry.

The crime has rocked this small town and boyhood home Ronald Reagan from the average homeowner to the police chief.

"It's devastating, I'm a citizen of this community, like everybody else here and there aren't words to describe what we're feeling right now," Police Chief Dan Langloss said.

Crundwell faces a maximum sentence 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.

The arrest was announced by federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and the head of Chicago's FBI office, Robert Grant.



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