Dixon mayor to speak at Rita Crundwell sentencing

February 12, 2013 ( ROCKFORD, Ill.) — At least half a dozen public officials are expected to make victim statements at this week’s sentencing of a small-town Illinois bookkeeper who stole $53 million in public funds.

A government filing Tuesday says Dixon Mayor James Burke is among those who will describe how Rita Crundwell’s crimes devastated his northern Illinois community.
As the city’s longtime comptroller, Crundwell used the stolen money to fund her nationally renowned horse-breeding operation and luxurious tastes.

She’s scheduled to be sentenced Thursday in Rockford. The most the 60-year-old could face is 20 years in prison after pleading guilty in November to a felony count of wire fraud. A state case against her is still pending.

Prosecutors contend her case is one of the most egregious abuses of public trust ever in Illinois.

February 12, 2013 ( ROCKFORD, Ill.) — At least half a dozen public officials are expected to make victim statements at this week’s sentencing of a small-town Illinois bookkeeper who stole $53 million in public funds.

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PHOTOS: Inside Rita Crundwell homes up for auction
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A government filing Tuesday says Dixon Mayor James Burke is among those who will describe how Rita Crundwell’s crimes devastated his northern Illinois community.
As the city’s longtime comptroller, Crundwell used the stolen money to fund her nationally renowned horse-breeding operation and luxurious tastes.

She’s scheduled to be sentenced Thursday in Rockford. The most the 60-year-old could face is 20 years in prison after pleading guilty in November to a felony count of wire fraud. A state case against her is still pending.

Prosecutors contend her case is one of the most egregious abuses of public trust ever in Illinois.

Crundwell personal items may be sold online

DIXON – Hundreds of personal items that belong to ousted Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell may soon be up for auction – online.

An online auction rather than a large public auction of items seized from Crundwell’s Dixon and Florida homes makes more fiscal sense, said Jason Wojdylo, chief inspector of the marshals asset forfeiture division….

from
http://www.saukvalley.com/2012/11/07/crundwell-personal-items-may-be-sold-online/acndwzm/

Oklahoma quarter horse champion pleads not guilty to misappropriating $53M from Illinois city

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)— An Illinois woman well known in the local quarter horse circuit faces charges that she supported her championship program with embezzled money.

Rita Crundwell, who won the last eight top titles at the American Quarter Horse Association’s annual championship in Oklahoma City, has pleaded not guilty to misappropriating more than $53 million from the city of Dixon, Ill., where she worked as comptroller.

Eighty high-value quarter horses were sold at an online auction earlier this week, fetching more than $1.6 million. A live auction Sept. 23-24 at Crundwell’s ranch in Dixon will help the U.S. Marshals Service to liquidate the remaining of Crundwell’s 300-plus horses.

Crundwell was arrested by FBI agents in April, accused of siphoning public funds into a secret bank account opened in 1990 to help support her lavish lifestyle, including her successful horse breeding operation.

Federal prosecutors contend she spent the funds on jewelry and cars, including a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster, and on horses.

Crundwell won 69 world championships as an owner and 47 as an exhibitor. She also won the Oklahoma City Leading Owner Award — presented to the owner who earns the most points overall at the annual championship show — for the last eight years straight, according to American Quarter Horse Association results.

“Rita was well known because she had been successful for an extended amount of time,” said Jim Bret Campbell, the Quarter Horse Association’s senior director of marketing and public relations.

“It is a very viable way of life and it’s a way of life many people enjoy, but just because you have one individual who falls outside of that doesn’t meant that the whole industry is painted with the same brush,” he told The Oklahoman (http://is.gd/gP1Mt0).

Quarter horses are prized for being able to run short straightaways faster than any other. In the halter class, in which Crundwell enjoyed her success, prizes are awarded based on breed ideals and the look and structure of the animal.

Campbell said a championship purse can be worth $15,000 to $20,000.

Wayne Halverson, who sells and trains quarter horses at his ranch between Edmond and Guthrie, said Crundwell was well known for her elaborate setup at competitions across the country.

“You’ll find a lot of people have either a nice motor home or a nice trailer, but she had a nice everything — a motor home, a nice truck and trailer, another trailer that would haul her clothes and another for hauling equipment. She was probably a little more extravagant than most.”

He said the quarter horse industry can be a lucrative one for successful breeders and owners, but like any business, it takes careful planning and budgeting to sustain. He believes the glory of her success may have pushed Crundwell to expand her operation beyond its means.

“It was kind of like people start playing golf and pretty soon they’re playing golf more days per week, pretty soon it kind of overtakes their time,” he said. “She just really enjoyed showing and enjoyed the horses; I don’t think it was for financial gain.”

Court documents indicate Crundwell took 12 weeks of unpaid vacation from her city hall job in 2011.

Crundwell has agreed to allow her horses to be auctioned while the case against her is pending, said Lynzey Donahue, spokeswoman for the U.S. Marshals Service.

Proceeds raised at the two auctions will be put into an escrow account until the conclusion of the case, Donahue said.

“With assets like these that quickly depreciate, it’s in our best interest to forfeit them and get them sold because it’s costing us about $200,000 a month to maintain the horses,” she said.

In addition to horses, about 250 bridles, bits and reins and 17 saddle pads, blankets and saddle covers will be included in the live auction later this month.

Rita Crundwell back in court for status hearing

Dixon’s former comptroller, accused of stealing over $53 million from the city, was back in court Wednesday for a status hearing.

Rita Crundwell got an update on both her criminal case, in which she faces one count of wire fraud, and her civil case, regarding the sale of assets authorities say she purchased with stolen money.

Crundwell’s criminal case is not yet ready to be transferred to another judge. She will appear in court again on October 10 and her attorney has until then to file a pretrial motion.

Her horses will be auctioned off next month. Once her horses are sold, her property and assets on those properties will also be sold. Crundwell will appear in court regarding these matters on October 10 as well.

http://www.wrex.com/story/19409327/rita-crundwell-back-in-court-for-status-hearing

Rita crundwell RV did not sell.

DIXON, Ill. (AP) – The U.S. Marshals Service has rejected the only bid for a luxury motor home seized from a former city official in northern Illinois because it was below the minimum $1 million requirement.

The 2009 Elegant Lady series Liberty Coach motor home once belonged to former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell and had a list price of $2.1 million. But it couldn’t muster half that in bidding that ended Wednesday.

Crundwell is accused of stealing more than $53 million in public funds since 1990 and using the cash to fuel an extravagant lifestyle and a nationally renowned horse-breeding operation. She’s pleaded not guilty.

The Marshals Service will try to find another way to sell off the RV.

They’re also planning to sell 400 of Crundwell’s horses

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

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

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.

Judge allows sale of Crundwell horses


ROCKFORD – As lawyers convened behind closed doors Friday, Rita Crundwell stared straight ahead as she waited for a decision on whether her 401 prime quarter horses would be sold before her case is resolved.

While the former Dixon comptroller and her attorneys already had agreed to the sale, there was a brief hold-up Friday as the federal prosecutors consulted with two attorneys representing some of the companies that have been taking care of the horses since Crundwell’s arrest.

The attorneys for the companies – Percott Company of Beloit, Wis., and a horse company and two veterinarians from Texas – want “assurances” that they would have chance to recoup some of their costs from sale proceeds.

Crundwell purchased the horses, along with other properties and assets, with city funds, according to federal prosecutors.

Crundwell, 59, is charged with one count of federal wire fraud as part of a scheme to misappropriate more than $53 million since 1990, according to prosecutors.

Crundwell will be back in court July 23 in both her civil and criminal case.

During a 30-minute hearing Friday, Magistrate Judge P. Michael Mahoney gave the U.S. Marshals Service the go-ahead to sell the horses, as well as 21 embryos, 13 saddles, and frozen stallion semen from eight horses.

Read the order allowing the sale.
Rita Crundwell Horse Order 12-cv-50153

A similar request to sell five of Crundwell’s properties and a $2.1 luxury motor home was granted late last month.

Marshals have been caring for the horses, properties and other assets seized from Crundwell after her April 17 arrest at City Hall.

Marshals did not return calls or emails seeking comment Friday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Pedersen told Mahoney that selling the horses now will “be in the best interest of all parties involved.”

In a motion filed Thursday, Pedersen wrote that maintenance costs are “burdensome,” especially because some of the mares are pregnant or recently gave birth.

Prolonging the sale may also devalue the horses, Pedersen said.

Pedersen told Mahoney that it will take 60 to 90 days for marshals to bid out contracts to companies to conduct the sales.

All proceeds, minus costs incurred by the Marshals Service in setting up the sale, will be held in an escrow account managed by marshals until the case is resolved, Pedersen said.

Percott and Texas horse breeders Brock and Kristi Allen of Allen Equine, and veterinarians A. Barry Wood and Hartman Equine Reproduction Center, filed motions in late May to intervene in the civil suit.

In the motions, attorneys wrote that they have incurred substantial costs in caring for the horses, which have resulted in a lien of more than $150,000.

The attorneys argued that in the event the horses would be sold, they intend to make a claim from the proceeds to recover those costs.

Crundwell’s federal defender, Paul Gaziano, told Mahoney that he still is going over 17,000 pages of discovery provided by prosecutors, 6,000 of which were provided within the past month.

Mahoney told Gaziano to file any pretrial motions before Crundwell’s next court date.

After Friday’s hearing, Crundwell and her second attorney, Kristin Carpenter, walked briskly past a throng of reporters and into a small black car; a black trash bag had been placed over the license plate.

Company Caring for Crundwell’s Horses Wants to get Paid

BELOIT (WIFR) — A company that’s caring for some of Former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell’s horses on her ranch in Beloit wants to be reimbursed for its troubles.

And that means it wants to stop a federal court from selling the animals. Purrcott Company says it has spent at least $150,000 boarding, training and caring for 60 horses.

Purrcott has intervened in the civil lawsuit against Crundwell to get its money back.

Judge will allow sale of certain Crundwell Horses

ROCKFORD – Several of former Dixon Comptroller Rita A. Crundwell’s properties and a luxury motor home may soon be on the market, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Judge Philip G. Reinhard granted an agreed motion between federal prosecutors and Crundwell to sell her properties at 1679 U.S. Route 52, Dixon; 1556 Red Brick Road, Dixon; 1403 Dutch Road, Dixon; 80 acres of land in Lee County; and 821 E. Fifth St., in Englewood, Fla.

A $2.1 million 2009 Liberty Coach motor home also will be sold.

In an order filed Wednesday, Reinhard directed the U.S. Marshals Service to sell the items and place the proceeds into the Marshals Seized Assets Deposit Fund until Crundwell’s criminal case is resolved.

Those properties, along with nearly 400 horses nationwide, were taken over by the Marshals Service following Crundwell’s April 17 arrest at City Hall.

Crundwell, 59, is free on a $4,500 recognizance bond and charged with one count of wire fraud, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors say Crundwell misappropriated more than $53 million in taxpayer money over two decades to pay for her horse operations and her “lavish lifestyle.”

In two motions filed late Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Pedersen wrote that prosecutors want to sell the assets because “financial responsibilities relating to the subject properties are burdensome and the defendant does not have the means to meet the obligations.”

Pedersen wrote in the motions that Crundwell and her attorneys agree to the sale, although in doing so Crundwell is not admitting guilt.

Reinhard’s order will allow marshals to secure the property to prepare them for sale, as well as “assume any leases pertaining to the crops and farmland” at the Dutch Road and Lee County properties.

Marshals can deduct costs from the proceeds that are related to the sale and maintenance of the properties, Reinhard ordered.

Marshals Service spokeswoman Lynzey Donahue said Tuesday that once the judge approves prosecutors’ request to sell the property, an appraisal will be done.

From there, the agency will decide the best way to sell the property, whether it’s by auction, sealed bids, or sale by a broker under contract, Donahue said.