Crundwell pleads not guilty to theft charges

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DIXON, Ill. — The mayor showed up early for Rita Crundwell’s arraignment, thinking the Lee County courtroom would be packed.

Instead, only seven people attended the former comptroller’s Wednesday hearing, including Mayor Jim Burke. The eight other spectators were members of the media.

Though she entered a plea of not guilty, the answer could not be heard from the gallery.

Crundwell, 59, is accused of stealing $53 million from the city of Dixon over a 20-year period. Prosecutors say she used the money to live lavishly and to support a horse-breeding operation, which was run primarily from an upscale ranch outside of town.

Her 401 horses, stabled in more than a dozen states, have been sold at auction by the U.S. Marshals Service.

Crundwell entered the fourth-floor courtroom Wednesday with her head bent down. The hearing lasted about five minutes, and she waived the reading of the 60 charges that have been filed against her in Lee County.

Each count is a Class X felony, which carry possible sentences of six to 30 years each. The amounts specified in each count range from $100,000 to $350,000, for a total of more than $11 million, which officials said disappeared over a period of two years and four months.

The state charges are in addition to a federal charge of wire fraud, which is pending. She has pleaded not guilty to the federal charge and is free on bond.

A pretrial conference is scheduled for Dec. 19.

“I got here early, because I thought it’d be standing room only,” Burke said after the arraignment.

He said it is possible many Dixon taxpayers declined to attend because they plan to rely instead on media accounts of the hearing. He added, “People in Dixon who really care … are looking forward, not back.”

Asked how the city is recovering from the financial losses, Burke said, “Now that we’ve got the outflow stopped, we’re doing much better.”

Crundwell’s ranch on Red Brick Road, just a few miles outside of town, appeared barren Wednesday, compared to the flutter of activity of recent months as the U.S. Marshals Service prepared her horse herd for auction.

At her home about a mile from the ranch, a next-door neighbor’s yard contains a campaign sign for County Attorney Henry S. Dixon — the man prosecuting her.

After her arraignment, Crundwell was led out a rear door of the courtroom.

Take A Tour Of The Florida Vacation Home Of Dixon’s Indicted Ex-Comptroller

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(CBS) — Former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell allegedly stole $53 million from the Northern Illinois city for almost 22 years, and now CBS 2 has an exclusive look inside the Florida vacation home that authorities say was financed and built using taxpayer dollars.

The 3,300-square-foot, 2-bedroom, 3-bathroom home is located in Englewood, Fla., about 80 miles south of Tampa, just outside Sarasota on the West Coast.

According to Charlotte County, Fla. property documents, Crundwell bought the land back in 2009 for $115,000. Construction on the existing structure started immediately expanding the home from the original 1,064 square foot home to its now 3,316 square feet. According to Charlotte County property documents, the house was assessed last year for $267,000.00.

CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey got an exclusive, first-hand look at the Florida vacation home. Authorities say almost all of the furniture in the home was custom-made from three different furniture dealers in Oklahoma City, OK.

Jason Wojdylo, chief inspector for the U.S. Marshal’s Service, says his office has obtained receipts showing that in late November 2010 Crundwell ordered more than $42,000 in custom furniture from a single dealer then had it shipped to the Florida location.

“No expense was spared in furnishing this property,” Wojdylo said.

Marshals are still tallying the estimated total amount that Crundwell’s furniture costs but they’re not expected to publicize the final appraised value.
Marshals are still tallying the estimated total amount that Crundwell’s furniture costs but they’re not expected to publicize the final appraised value.
Federal authorities now have an extensive inventory of Crundwell’s personal property. According to court documents, a federal judge ordered her five properties to be sold or auctioned at a later date.

They include: a single family residence located at 1679 U.S. Rt. 52 in Dixon (Crundwell’s personal residence); the horse ranch property located at 1556 Red Brick Road in Dixon; a single-family residence located at 1403 Dutch Road in Dixon, where some of Crundwell’s extended family currently lives; approximately 80 acres of vacant land located in Lee County, and the vacation property.

Her Florida home may not sell for much. That’s because it’s in the middle of a modest neighborhood.

“Look at the structures in this community,” Wojdylo says. “Most of them are cinder-block, sort of like building a castle in the middle of a relatively depressed area.”

So far, marshals have auctioned off more than 400 quarter horses, along with a 2008 custom motor home, 10 vehicles or trailers and numerous pieces of horse equipment. Marshals expect another auction to take place in the next 30 to 45 days.

Meanwhile, Crundwell is due back in federal court on Nov. 14 in Rockford. The former Dixon comptroller is also charged by the state with 60 counts of theft. For those charges, Crundwell is scheduled for arraignment in Lee County on Wednesday.

Rita Crundwell was the comptroller for the city of Dixon 1983 to 2012. Federal authorities allege that she stole $53 million from the city during her tenure. She was arrested at Dixon City Hall in April after Dixon Mayor James Burke found suspicious activity on city bank accounts.

Federal authorities have charged Crundwell with one count of wire fraud. She pleaded not guilty in federal court back in April when she was released on $4,500 bond.
More can be seen at

Former Dixon comptroller appears in county court

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DIXON, Ill. (AP) — Former Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell has made her first court appearance in the northern Illinois city to face charges she siphoned millions of dollars in public funds into a secret bank account.
The 60-count theft case in Lee County Court is separate from the federal case in Rockford in which Crundwell is charged with a single count of wire fraud.
She is suspected of stealing more than $53 million over two decades and using the money to sustain a lavish lifestyle and a nationally renowned horse-breeding operation. She was arrested in April and has pleaded not guilty in the federal case.
On Monday, Crundwell told a Lee County judge she would also need a public defender in the state case.
The (Dixon) Telegraph reports ( ) her arraignment is Oct. 31.

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Rita Crundwellto appear in local county court

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The former Dixon comptroller accused of stealing over $53 million from the city over the course of two decades, made her first court appearance in Dixon on Tuesday.

Rita Crundwell faces 60 counts of theft in Lee County, in addition to a separate, federal charge of wire fraud. Officials say Crundwell used the money she allegedly took to fund a national horse-breeding operation and an extravagant lifestyle for herself. She was arrested in April of this year, and pleaded not guilty to the federal charge of wire fraud in May.

Crundwell’s arraignment is scheduled for October 31. She requested a public defender during Tuesday’s court appearance.

Great article at


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Former Dixon City Comptroller Rita Crundwell has made her first Lee County court appearance.

The state has filed 60 counts of theft against her. Crundwill appeared with her federal public defender Paul Gaziano who explained to the judge that Crundwell’s assets had all been seized and disposed of in the federal case against her. When asked by Judge Ron Jacobson if she needed a public defender, Crundwell reported that she did.
Lee County Public Defender Bob Thompson was assigned to the case. It was Thompson’s first appearance with Crundwell. He requested more time for an arraignment and Judge Jacobson scheduled it for Oct. 31st.

The Indictment of Crundwell on 60 counts of theft was secured by Lee County State’s Attorney Henry Dixon in September. Crundwell also faces one federal charge for wire fraud. She is accused of stealing $53 million from the city of Dixon over more than two decades.

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Crundwell Property Left to Sell

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DIXON (WIFR) — The criminal case against Rita Crundwell is moving forward. The former Dixon comptroller is accused of stealing more than $50 million from the city. This morning during a criminal and civil hearing, Crundwell appeared with her attorneys in front of Judge Mahoney, where he asked for an update on the sale of Crundwell’s property.

The U.S. Department of Justice has sold all but one of Crundwell’s more than 400 horses. The bidder who bought that horse during an online auction last month, didn’t pay up. Now, the horse is up for sale online through tomorrow night. You can bid on the horse at

U.S. Marshals say they still need to sell several things, including nearly a dozen vehicles, which will be sold at an auction in Chicago on October 20th. For more information on that auction visit

Some boats and custom-made furniture also need to be sold, as well as five pieces of land; Crundwell’s ranch and home in Dixon, her home in Englewood, Florida, and two pieces of land, one for 80 acres and one for 40 acres in Lee County. Right now, inspectors are working with the EPA to remove stock-piled horse manure from those properties. Under the law it must be removed within 180 days, which will be November 1st.

Inspectors say they anticipate holding a community auction in November to sell some of Crundwell’s belongings. And there will likely be an online auction to sell some other things. Marshals will be taking pictures and logging property over the next few weeks. We’re told everything should be sold by Christmas.

Also today, both parties agreed to send the criminal case to Judge Philip Reinhard. He’s the judge who will see this case through, whether there is a trial or plea deal. Crundwell will appear in front of Judge Reinhard on November 14th. Also on the 14th, there will be another hearing on the civil case.

Crundwell back in court

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It’s back to court Wednesday for Rita Crundwell. Crundwell will be in Federal Court for a status hearing.

The former Dixon comptroller is accused of embezzling more than $53 million from the city of Dixon.

This kind of hearing is an informal discussion where the defendant, prosecution and judge discuss the case and the defendant has an opportunity to change their plea if necessary. Crundwell faces one federal count of wire fraud.

Almost three weeks ago, federal marshals auctioned off Crundwell’s collection of more than 300 horses for nearly $5 million.

The status hearing is set for 11 a.m.

Crundwell also faces 60 counts of state charges for felony theft.

By Clay LePard

Preliminary total from 2-day Crundwell auction: $4.78 million

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DIXON, Ill. — A two-day auction of property owned by former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell raised an estimated $4.78 million, a representative of the U.S. Marshals Service reported late Monday.

According to Lynzey Donahue of the Office of Public Affairs, the preliminary total for the Sunday-Monday sale at Crundwell’s ranch included the sale of horses, horse-related equipment, tack, vehicles and trailers.

The first horse in a 400-horse herd to be auctioned live Sunday sold for $775,000.

The prized stallion, Good I Will Be, was expected to fetch between $250,000 and $1 million, said marshals service chief inspector Jason Wojdylo.

“We certainly got closer to the million, and I think that set the tone,” he said.

The sale drew more than 2,000 people on Sunday.

The 59-year-old Crundwell is accused of directing $53 million in city money to a secret fund over two decades. Officials say the money was used to finance Crundwell’s world-renowned horse-breeding operation, several homes, luxury vehicles, jewelry and the sprawling horse ranch on Dixon’s Red Brick Road. She is free on a recognizance bond but officially remains in federal custody.

Noted at–day-crundwell-auction-million/article_917b36ce-06cc-11e2-843d-001a4bcf887a.html

From someone who knew Rita Crundwell

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PRINCETON — Gary and Julia Yaklich of Princeton have been horse enthusiasts for years. They clearly know the horse business, and they also know Rita Crundwell. The Yaklich couple have raised and shown their horses — many times in the same show ring as Crundwell.

Gary and Julia attended the recent auction of Crundwell’s horses and property in Dixon, hoping to buy at least one of Crundwell’s broodmares, however, the couple came home empty-handed. Gary chatted with the Bureau County Republican about his thoughts on the auction, the horses and the Crundwell situation. Following are the BCR’s questions and Gary’s answers:

BCR: How did you know Rita Crundwell?

Yaklich: I’ve probably known Rita since the early ‘80s. When you show horses, you come in contact with the same circle of people. When we showed more, we would show with/against her mostly in Illinois and Wisconsin. We attended her past production sales and visited the ranches over the years.

BCR: Why did you want a Crundwell horse?

Yaklich: Rita was able to develop one of the top broodmare bands in the country. She then either raised or bought studs that crossed well on these mares. She had about 200 mares and over 10 studs, so she would try different crosses to perfect the desired traits or abilities necessary to win at the highest level. Everyone was aware of the crosses that worked the best, so they were the ones most sought after by the horse show industry. This was the opportunity to capitalize on the proven breeding program and carry on what was started in Dixon. On Sunday and Monday, I bid on several of the mares in the sale, however, the bids on the mares I liked shot up past my limit.

BCR: Did you think the prices were fair?

Yaklich: The top sellers were all horses that will have an impact on the quarter horse industry for decades. So, given their future in both the show ring and in breeding programs, the top sellers were definitely worth the money. There were also average horses that would be competitive on the local level, and this was reflected in the prices they brought. There were really only a few “off bred” horses in the sale, and they, of course, were on the low end of the price range. Actually there were horses sold suited for all levels of competition with sales prices to match.

By Questions compiled by Terri Simon and Barb Kromphardt –
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Rita Crundwell Halter Horse Sale

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A great article from

A smaller but still enthusiastic crowdgathered September 24 for the final day of the sale of horses that formerly belonged toRita Crundwell of Dixon, Illinois.

Execute, a three-time AQHA world champion, brought the highest bid, with Tom Scheckel of Bellevue, Iowa, purchasing the 2004 sorrel stallion by Mr Touchdown Kid-Forever Coolest by Coolest for $245,000.

Tom said he likely will stand Execute at Iowa State University, which currently stands Kids Classic Style, Tom’s other stallion.

Many of the bidders in the audience had driven over for the day from the Breeders Halter Futurity and National Championship Show, where they had spent the weekend, but a large number of bidders watched and purchased horses online at the sale organized by Professional Auction Services Inc.

The court-ordered sale began at 10 a.m. with items such as portable coolers and muck buckets going first, followed by fencing and other farm equipment. Trucks and trailers were sold before the first horse entered the sale ring. Bidding continued for more than 10 hours.

Notable horses sold September 24:

Execute — $245,000
Lookin For Romance — $60,000
Sacreds Executionist — $50,000
Bob Bob Barann — $40,000
Mr Touchdown Kid, $36,000
Acoolest — $31,000