DIXON — More than 400 horses that once belonged to former Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell will be on the auction block next month, as the federal government tries to recoup the more than $53 million she allegedly stole from the city over a 20-year period.
An online auction will be held Sept. 11 and 12 and a live auction will follow Sept. 23 and 24 at Crundwell’s horse farm, located about 4 miles southeast of downtown Dixon. The preauction reports and bidding will be open to the public, said U.S. Marshal Darryl McPherson, and no private sales will be held.
McPherson said the Marshals Service and the FBI have worked jointly to identify more than 400 horses at 22 farms across 13 states and 17 federal judicial districts since Crundwell was arrested April 17.
“It has been a remarkable and unprecedented responsibility,” he said Friday, speaking from Crundwell’s farm at a news conference. “My objective is to provide the sound care for the horses while keeping costs under control to be able to return the greatest amount to any victims of the alleged crime at the conclusion of this process.”
Some of Crundwell’s horses are world-renowned and could fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction, said Mike Jennings with Professional Auction Service Inc., of Round Hill, Va., the company that won the contract to conduct the auction.
Others, especially the younger horses, could go for more reasonable prices.
“I think there will be an opportunity for people in all walks of life to come buy a horse out of this program,” he said. “Some of the unproven young horses or maybe the older mares may be ways people can get in at a reasonable cost and the average family will have a chance to raise their champion horse down the line.”
The higher the sales prices on the horses, the better. It’s costing the federal government $200,000 a month to care for the herd, and their expenses will get reimbursed before any money is set aside for the city of Dixon or anyone else who may have a claim in the case. Professional Auction Services will be paid via a buyer’s premium of 8 percent to 10 percent of the sales price of each horse.
The sale of the horses and other property is part of a civil forfeiture case against Crundwell, who also faces a federal charge of wire fraud. If convicted of that charge, she could face up to 20 years in prison. Crundwell was released on her own recognizance as the criminal case moves through the court system.