ROCKFORD — A federal magistrate judge approved the sale Friday of more than 400 horses once owned by Rita Crundwell as part of the government’s wire fraud case against the former Dixon comptroller.
Thirteen saddles, 21 horse embryos and frozen stallion semen were among the other items to be sold under Magistrate Judge P. Michael Mahoney’s ruling. The proceeds of the sale will be used to pay for the horses’ upkeep since Crundwell’s April 17 arrest. Other parties, including those with liens on the horses, are filing claims with the court to recover their funds as well.
Crundwell is accused of stealing more than $53 million in public money during a 20-year tenure as Dixon’s comptroller.
The U.S. attorney’s office alleges she used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle that included a horse farm in Lee County.
Crundwell, who was in court Friday, is charged with a single count of wire fraud and could face 20 years in prison if convicted.
Also Friday, Crundwell’s public defender, Paul Gaziano, asked for more time to review the 17,000 pages of evidence in the case before proceeding. Mahoney agreed and set the next status hearing for July 23 to discuss Gaziano’s progress.