Small Town Treasurer Arrested In Staggering $30 Million Theft

Rita Crundwell arrested $30 million allegedly

As a champion horse breeder, Rita Crundwell was a familiar face in Dixon, Ill., a sleepy town of 15,000 where Crundwell also worked, managing the town's finances for about 30 years.

But on Tuesday, federal authorities arrested the 58-year-old civil servant, accusing her of stealing $30 million in taxpayer funds in the past six years. The FBI was tipped by the city's mayor to the comptroller's suspected malfeasance. Crundwell's arrest leaves many Dixon residents wondering how she might have managed such a feat in a town as small as Dixon.

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Crundwell allegedly used money stolen from the town treasury to fund a lavish lifestyle, which included the purchase of a 2009 Liberty Coach motor home for $2.1 million, a 2009 Kenworth T800 tractor truck for nearly $150,000, as well as two more trucks and a horse trailer for hundreds of thousands of dollars more.

Residents of the town about 100 miles west of Chicago, known as the childhood home of Ronald Reagan, were surprised and upset to hear the news.

"I'm just totally ticked that she was able to get away with this," resident Carole Fischer told WFLD-TV in Chicago. "They have auditing firms that check the books. Where are they at?"

Many in Dixon assumed that Crundwell's wealth was accumulated through her business. Crundwell breeds champion horses at ranches in Dixon and Beloit, Wis., according to Rockford, Ill., TV station WIFR.

As comptroller, Crundwell's salary is $80,000 a year. She had worked for the city since she was a teenager.

Crundwell came under scrutiny because she took off four months a year -- all but a month unpaid -- to operate the horse business and travel to shows, the Chicago Tribune reports.

During one such break in October, an employee filling in for Crundwell asked the city's bank for all its statements and discovered a suspicious account that was the source of multiple six-figure transactions, authorities told the newspaper.

It was that discovery that led Mayor James Burke to approach the FBI about the matter, leading to Crundwell's arrest.

"It's incredible really. In the last two years we've been really in a financial crunch with the whole thing," the mayor told the Tribune, adding that an annual audit revealed no problems.

"Auditors even commented that we were doing fine with our cash controls," he said.


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David Schepp

Staff Writer

David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.

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Cah Cali

She sure spread a lot of horse manure to the town's citizens and local govt. throughout the years. Now that she's been stopped spreading it, she better shovel it into bags and sell it as compost to begin the re-payment to the city/citizens! Its really true what the saying goes about con-artists. They look pleasant, smile, sweet talk, become best friends, etc. and your guard goes down and all the while, they're loading their pockets with your/the town's $$. Good idea to check out the auditor but with a small population as theirs, didn't any of the city govt. lawyers, council, etc. ever think why/how she could afford to live that high-life? With today's economy, very few small town city workers can afford to live that life style not unless they have inheritance or win the Lotto. Wowsie, she threw it right in their faces and no one did anything until the temp. came along and caught her! Lately it seems that whenever 1 person is in charge of handling the $$, they always get sticky fingers. They need to have more than 1 sign off on any payments with original billing document attached and double checked by others making sure its a legal company or spenditure.

April 23 2012 at 4:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
SB

Part 1 of 2

This is absolutely amazing. One has to wonder what our elected officials, appointed officials, and all of the employees who work amongst them are doing while they’re supposedly at work. It has become blatantly clear that those ranks are filled with far too many thieves and/or gross enablers. Regarding all of the abuse that these people subject the citizenry to, I and many other citizens that I know are well past the point of frustration. Things are at a boiling point in this country. This woman’s head should roll; as should everyone else who works in the government ranks and knew, or should have known, what she was doing. Too many people are either stealing from the people they are supposed to be serving and/or sitting around doing next to nothing while on the job. Kudos to the temporary staffer that exposed this, he or she should be named and publicly commended (heck maybe even rewarded...how many more millions of dollars would have been stolen were it not for that intervention?) But one must wonder (and I mean a serious and deep wonder) could no one else over the course of several years not see any of the indicators that this staffer noticed during the course of covering Ms. Crundwell’s vacation. Me thinks at minimum a lot of blind eyes have been turned. This country is in serious trouble, although this is mere speculation I don’t think that I would be far off if I were to guess that there is probably not one state that hasn’t been tainted by a scandal within the last year. Places like Illinois, New York, California, and Florida can’t seem to stay off the scandal/corruption radar. It’s time for some serious stiffening of penalties for the privileged and well connected such as Comptroller Crundwell…a good place to start is with the revocation of the paltry $4,500.00 bond that has been granted to a likely corrupt and thieving millionaire. I know that at this point the charges are simply allegations; however, the numbers don’t lie. That being the case, I’d bet that the case against Ms. Crundwell is probably pretty rock-solid, unless of course you view that case through the eyes of a Crundwell friend…in that case you might call a spot-on admission of guilt (a voluntary and video-recorded admission that wasn’t taken under duress mind you) shaky. Above I mentioned Florida, intense focus should be given to that state as well. That being the case I’ll end with the below comment, it was previously posted elsewhere, but it is fitting to include it here. The public should be aware.

------------------------------------------

Next stop Florida. “Why specifically?”, you ask.

Because in Florida, within recent months, numerous and egregious violations of law have been committed that warrant multiple criminal prosecutions and other severe government sanctions. These crimes that have had all types of deleterious effects including, but not limited to, once again placing the integrity of Florida’s election results (for 2012) in

April 20 2012 at 6:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to SB's comment
SB

Part 2 of 2

jeopardy. A few of the things that are central to this issue are:

1
David P. Kreider [Mr. Kreider, a proven criminal, is a corrupt Alachua County Court judge. This criminally-corrupt judge also happens to be both (a) one of the circuit's former prosecutors and (b) a former Division Chief for the State Attorney's Office.]

2
Robert Roundtree, Chief Judge for Florida’s 8th Judicial Circuit (he recently replaced the embattled Martha Lott who resigned from her chief judge post subsequent to becoming embroiled in this scandal which has started to implode; her resignation was announced on 04/09/2012 and was reported to have gone into effect on 04/05/2012)

3
Spencer Mann, Chief Investigator for the State Attorney’s Office of Florida’s 8th Judicial Circuit

4
William "Bill" Cervone, State Attorney for Florida's 8th Judicial Circuit

5
The conspiracy / scandal related to the "Gibson Case"

6
The two irrefutable reports and extensive corroborating evidence that is in the possession of agencies, including those within Florida’s 8th Judicial Circuit (and the aforementioned Spencer Mann and Chief Judge’s office). The comprehensive reports and evidence span a total of more than 100 pages and in-depthly detail criminal activities carried out under the color of law by criminal/judge David P. Kreider and various other co-conspirators.

http://www.complaints.com/2012/march/14/Corrupt_Judge_David_P._Kreider_now_taints_the_ele_264712.htm

This is the gateway to some serious corruption and a major cover-up attempt.

April 20 2012 at 6:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nancy

I'm disturbed about the theft of milions but I am also disturbed that she was allowed to take four months off each year and still get paid for three of those months. What private sector job allows that? Why do government jobs always have to be so unrealistically lavish in their benefits? This needs to stop because everyone is going bankrupt with this union job mentality

April 19 2012 at 11:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jh

Sure are a lot of crooks around the chicago area.

April 19 2012 at 1:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Buckingham's

Rita,...happy trails to you,...I hope we NEVER meet again.......

April 19 2012 at 12:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
woobernicker

This is a good indicator how most cities' or towns conduct everyday affairs. An audit missed that??? That is extremely loose accounting, and yes the auditor should be investigated as well. Then they always run back to the taxpayer and need more money. An average housewife could keep books much better than that.

April 19 2012 at 12:15 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
jozatexan

Don't know how I'm going to pay to have my young stock trained in the future. It won't be with stolen or embezzled funds. I've heard this woman donated a LOT of money to the AQHA. I wonder what that organization plans to do with the stolen funds.

April 18 2012 at 11:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Walt

THAT IS NOTHING RONALD REAGAN RAN UP A 2.86 TRILLION DOLLAR DEBT IN HIS 8 YEARS, IN FACT HE WAS THE FIRST PRESIDENT THE WORD TRILLION WAS ASSOCIATED....

April 18 2012 at 11:21 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Walt's comment
Howdy, Susie

And now we're at 15 trillion - what's that?

April 18 2012 at 11:57 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
dbonweb

OH.....so O-Man running up to $15 trillion with no snow balls chance in hell of paying back is "ok" then? You people kill me. A GED should be required before posting in here.

April 20 2012 at 1:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
wfathertime

If you are talking about the average tax being $6,000.00 per year. The town takes in $90,000,000.00 a year. Remove $5,000,000.00 a year. Not as hard to do as you might think. But the person doing the aduit, should have found it. Investigate the auditer most diffenitely.

April 18 2012 at 11:20 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
MeritaBread

How did that little town not miss an average of $5 million a year? Who else had their hands in the cookie jar?

April 18 2012 at 11:20 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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