U.S. Marshals Service Chooses Auctioneer for Crundwell Horses

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We now have a better idea of when Rita Crundwell’s hundreds of horses will be up for sale. The U.S. Marshals Service has awarded a contract to an auctioneer.

This is the release from the U.S. Department of Justice:

The U.S. Marshals Service has awarded a contract to Professional Auction Services of Round Hill,Virginia,for the U.S. District Court-ordered dispersal of horses and related equipment belonging to former city of Dixon, Illinois,Comptroller Rita A. Crundwell.

The contract will run from August 1 to September 30,2012. The agreement will offer buyers the opportunity to bid at a live auction at the Crundwell Red Brick Road farm,along with the opportunity to place bids on the contractor’s website. The auction dates are anticipated for mid-September and will be released by the contractor on or before August 1.

The U.S. Marshals Service received five proposals following a June 20 notice of the federal business opportunity. Receipt of bids closed on July 5. Proposals were evaluated on technical approach (i.e.,the capability to meet the requirements outlined within the Statement of Work),past performance conducting similar requirements,and price. The federal procurement process does not permit the release of information about the other companies considered for this contract.

Contractor performance will be closely monitored by the U.S. Marshals Service to ensure the highest level of integrity. A buyer’s premium is the only authorized fee charged to a buyer. All preview/inspection periods and auctions will be open to the public without charge of an admission fee. Private sales will not be allowed.

The U.S. Marshals Service will introduce representatives from Professional Auction Services in Dixon,Illinois,on August 2 where the company will provide a statement. More information on the time and location will be released under a separate media advisory.


From WIFR.com

Auction set for crundwell horses

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The U.S. Marshals Service hires a firm, to start selling off Rita Crundwell’s horses.

The contract goes to Professional Auction Services, Inc. out of Round Hill, Virginia. The contract runs from August 1st to September 30th. Auctioneers will sell horses and related equipment at Crundwell’s Red Brick Road farm in Dixon, and online. Right now, it looks like the auction will begin sometime in the middle of September.

Rita Crundwell is the City of Dixon’s former Comptroller. She’s accused of stealing more than $53 million from the City to fund her horse farm operation. A judge ordered the sale of more than 400 horses and other assets Crundwell had. Some of the money made will go back to the City of Dixon.

Crundwell has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Horses owned by Dixon’s former comptroller will go up for sale

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WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

The 400 horses that belong to former Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell will be put up for sale. During a civil hearing Monday the judge set the sale of the animals to happen between August 1st and Sept. 30. The U.S. Marshall Services will decide the exact date.

The Marshalls are already selling Crudwell’s luxury motor home. It is for sale via sealed bids. The 2009 Liberty Coach Motor Home has a minimum bid of $1 million. Bids will be accepted until 2 p.m. on August 1.

Crundwell, 59, has been indicted for allegedly stealing more than $53 million from the City of Dixon since 1990 and using the proceeds to finance her horse breeding business and lavish lifestyle.

Six Crundwell horses dead

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Some of the more than 400 horses that were seized from former Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell,have died.

Since the U.S. Marshals Service started caring for the horses on May first,sixof them have died. Several at the Dixon ranch,one in Wisconsin and one in Texas.

Most of them were under veterinary care before they died. The first passed away on May 3rd from bacteria in the blood. The second died on June 4th from pneumonia,a third died on June 20th. The foal was found in a field at the Dixon ranch. Authorities say it also had a heart murmur. On June 21st a horse in Texas died from colic. On July 5th an older horse died from kidney failure. And on July 11th another horse died from kidney failure.

The U.S. Marshals Service says they could award a horse auction contract next week. The contractor then has 45 days to put on the auction. It will take place at the Dixon ranch, likely in late August or early September. People will also be able to bid online.

U.S. Marshals To Sell First of Rita Crundwell Assets

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U.S. Marshals To Sell First of Rita Crundwell Assets:
Luxury Motor Home
Washington – The U.S. Marshals Service is selling the first of Rita Crundwell’s assets, a luxury motor home, via a sealed bid sale. Crundwell, 59, has been federally charged with wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Northern Illinois.

The 2009 Liberty Coach Motor Home has a minimum bid of $1 million. Bids will be accepted until 2 p.m. CDT August 1. Public viewings will be available by appointment only on July 23 and July 27 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. CDT.

Crundwell, the former comptroller of Dixon, Ill., has been indicted for allegedly fraudulently obtaining more than $53 million from the city since 1990 and using the proceeds to finance her horse breeding business and lavish lifestyle.

Should the government prevail in its civil and criminal actions against Crundwell, net proceeds from the sale of the defendant’s forfeited assets will be applied toward restitution to the city of Dixon.

Note to media: Media access will be granted by appointment only during the public viewing dates and times: July 23 and July 27 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. CDT. Call (414) 297-1144/4486 to schedule an appointment.

For more information, terms and conditions on the motor home sale, go to www.usmarshals.gov/assets/2012/motorhome.html

For more information on the federal case, go to:

The U.S. Marshals Service is responsible for managing and selling seized and forfeited properties acquired by federal criminals through illegal activities. Proceeds generated from asset sales are used to compensate victims, supplement funding for law enforcement initiatives and support community programs. As part of the Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture Program, the Marshals currently manage more than 19,000 assets with a value of $4.4 billion.

Additional information about the U.S. Marshals Service can be found at http://www.usmarshals.gov.

Dixon residents largely unaware of Crundwell’s lifestyle

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DIXON, Ill. — If Rita Crundwell stole $53 million from taxpayers here, as federal authorities claim, the former comptroller’s discreet spending and success as a horse breeder helped dampen local suspicions.

Many people in Dixon, from the mayor to a bartender at one of Crundwell’s hangouts, thought the 59-year-old’s accumulation of horses and property in the town of 15,733 people was the result of her breeding-business savvy.

But federal investigations into her assets revealed hundreds of horses in 14 states, luxury homes and cars, jewelry and other high-dollar purchases.

“I didn’t know anything about the $2 million RV,” Dixon Mayor Jim Burke said of another of Crundwell’s assets. “I’ve since learned about some pretty lavish parties she had at horse shows in Florida with that big motor home and her expensive horse trailers.”

The U.S. Marshals Service is moving to return Crundwell’s massive inventory of horses, their offspring — even embryos and semen — back into cash for the city of Dixon.

Strict rules will govern the upcoming public auction of her assets, and Burke hopes the return on taxpayers’ unapproved investments will start to pay off before the first mare is sold.

“It is my understanding it’ll be one of the largest horse sales in the history of the country,” he said. “People will come from all over and stay for days. It’s economic development at its worst.”

Discreet spending

Burke said he thinks Crundwell maintained a “ruse” to help hide her decades of stealing, which federal prosecutors say she managed by moving city money into private accounts.

“For example, the Budweiser Clydesdales were in town, and I was asked about a place to keep them overnight,” he said. “I asked Rita about keeping them out at the ranch on Red Brick (Road).

“She said, ‘Let me think about that.’ Then, the next day, she said, ‘I got overruled on that.’”

The mayor said he thinks the reply was intended to give him the impression Crundwell was not in charge of the ranch, which requires a security code for access through gates that are personalized with her initials.

He since has learned she was keeping nearly 300 horses there, and every one of the animals is on the Marshals Service’s list of assets in forfeiture.

Elaine Bruns, a bartender at Shamrock Pub, about a half-mile from one of Crundwell’s homes, said she frequented the small bar, which has low-slung ceilings, 10 barstools and a regular lunch crowd.

“She was always very nice,” she said of Crundwell. “Her tipping was OK. It depended on the day. I thought she got her money from the horses. I truly believe some of her family didn’t know what was going on.”

Crundwell’s list of assets includes hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry, but one of the owners of a Dixon jewelry store said she never shopped there.

Mike Venier, of Venier’s Jewelry, speculated a policy at his family-owned business may have turned Crundwell away: “We don’t take American Express.”

She is alleged to have charged more than $2 million on her personal American Express card, including more than $300,000 in jewelry.

Venier, whose jewelry store is just one block from City Hall, also speculated on how Crundwell may have gotten away with the crimes for which she is accused.

“I think we trusted to a fault,” he said. “I think that’s the bottom line: good, old-fashioned, small-town trust.

“At least the leak has stopped. That’s a positive for us.”

The mayor said trust wasn’t the only factor at play.

“She never wore that jewelry around City Hall,” he said. “Never.”

If she had, it likely would have stood out.

Crundwell’s office was just down the hall from Burke’s second-floor office, where bulges in the carpet give away large spots where adhesive has dried. Furniture is dated, and ceiling tiles and wallpaper are stained from water leaks.

The assets

Two of Crundwell’s Dixon properties are just down the road from one another.

Her longtime home on Route 52 East has the same punch-code security system as the entrances to the ranch on Red Brick Road.

Both properties are surrounded by fences, and the house is situated in such a way that it is protected from views from the street. At the ranch, about a dozen miniature stables dot the manicured grounds. Even the crop of corn across the gravel road appears to be doing well, its stalks shoulder height.

Some of the horses’ names: Have Faith in Money, Packin’ Jewels, RC Tilted Palace and Money Is Hot.

“Somebody’s going to pay a lot of money for some of those horses,” predicted Marcia Freeman, a Sycamore, Ill., horse-farm owner, who said she has been doing business with Crundwell for 12 years. “A couple of her studs, like Good I Will Be, will go for $250,000 to $500,000.”

There also is considerable value in the horse saddles that are expected to go up for auction this summer.

The Marshals Service has listed 10 “Phil Harris saddles” in its auction inventory.

Mabelene Harris, of North Carolina-based Harris Leather & Silverworks, estimated Crundwell paid $18,000 for some of them, adding that she knows of at least 13 saddles her company made for Crundwell.

“Some of them are very expensive,” she said of the custom-made riding gear. “Our saddles have an excellent resale value.

“We’re going to miss all that money she spent with us. I sure feel sorry for the folks in that town.”

Mayor Burke said he is hoping those high resale values — on hundreds of horses, dozens of saddles, homes, cars, trucks, trailers and land — will help Dixon begin to dig out.

Asked what his response would be if Crundwell’s investments actually paid off big for Dixon, Burke said, “That would be wonderful! Maybe we could go up and testify on her behalf.

“I keep thinking: She had to have known this would all come crashing down.”