Rita A. Crundwell (born January 10, 1953) was the comptroller and treasurer of Dixon, Illinois, from 1983 to April 2012, who was convicted of embezzling about $53 million from the city over 22 years to support her championship American Quarter Horse breeding operation. She was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison.
Crundwell was considered one of the best-known Quarter Horse breeders in the country; her horses won 52 world championships and she was named the leading owner by the American Quarter Horse Association for eight consecutive years prior to her arrest.
Early life and career
Born Rita Humphrey, the daughter of Ray and Caroline Humphrey, she grew up on her family's farm near Dixon and in 1970, a year before graduating from Dixon High School, began working at the Dixon City Hall as a work-study student. She began showing quarter horses in 1978. She married engineering tech Jerry L. Crundwell in 1974, while working as a secretary for Dixon's mayor; they divorced in 1986.
Crundwell's process for stealing city funds was not complicated. She opened a bank account for herself named RSCDA (Reserve Sewer Development Account), making it appear as if it were for the city, and she was the only signatory. She would have money deposited into another account called the Capital Development Fund, create false invoices, and then write checks from the fund payable to "Treasurer", which she would deposit into the RSCDA account.
She was arrested April 17, 2012, and indicted by a federal grand jury for embezzling $30 million from the city during the previous six years. She was charged with one count of wire fraud and released on $4,500 bail the next day. On May 2, 2012, an expanded federal grand jury indictment charged her with embezzling $53 million over the prior 22 years.
On November 14, 2012, Crundwell pled guilty to allegations that she embezzled more than $50 million as a single count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. She reportedly told FBI agents that some of the money was spent on her horses and their upkeep. Prosecutors sought the forfeit of her horse farm and 300 horses, in addition to her three homes and a luxury motor vehicle.
The following month, Dixon's new finance director said that the city had seen an almost $3 million rebound since Crundwell's arrest, but that the operating budget was still off by $16.6 million. It was also reported that Dixon lost $30 million in operating funds over the prior decade.
On February 14, 2013, Crundwell was sentenced to 19 years and 7 months in prison, just under the maximum 20-year sentence. Crundwell is incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution at Waseca, Minnesota, and is scheduled for release on March 5, 2030.
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- "Hall-of-Infamy corruption?". Chicago Tribune. April 18, 2012.
- "Dixon city ex-comptroller, Rita Crundwell, stole $53 million in public funds: Feds". Associated Press. May 1, 2012.
- "Woman accused of bilking $53 million from Reagan's boyhood home". Reuters. May 1, 2012.
- Becker, Tara (April 18, 2012). "Crundwell free on $4,500 bond: Judge OKs bond, with restrictions". Sauk Valley Media.
- Keyser, Jason (November 14, 2012). "Prosecutor: Embezzlement plea a warning to others". Associated Press.
- "Dixon budget rebounding after comptroller arrest". Peoria Journal Star via Associated Press. December 4, 2012.
- Babwin, Don (February 14, 2013). "Former Dixon bookkeeper who stole $53M gets nearly 20 years". Peoria Journal Star via Associated Press.
- Rita A. Crundwell, inmate # 44540-424, Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Dep't of Justice, at .