Comptroller in Dixon Accused of Stealing $3.2M

Rita Crundwell is accused of misappropriating more than $30 million since 2006 to finance a lavish lifestyle

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    A federal criminal complaint accused Rita Crundwell of misappropriating more than $30 million since 2006 to finance a lavish lifestyle, including operating a horse farm.

    FBI agents arrested a northern Illinois comptroller Tuesday on charges that she stole more than $3.2 million in public funds from the city of Dixon in just a matter of months.

    A federal criminal complaint also accused Rita Crundwell of misappropriating more than $30 million since 2006 to finance a lavish lifestyle, including operating a horse farm.

    Agents searching her home, office and farms in Dixon and Beloit, Wis., seized seven trucks and trailers, three pickup trucks, a $2.1 million motor home and a Ford Thunderbird convertible — all allegedly bought with illegal proceeds. Authorities also seized the contents of two bank accounts she controlled.

    The arrest was announced by federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and the head of Chicago's FBI office, Robert Grant.

    Crundwell has been Dixon comptroller since the early 1980s and has handled all of the finances for the city, to the west of Chicago.

    She was to appear Tuesday at the U.S. District Court in Rockford for a bond hearing.

    An employee who filled in for Crundwell while she was on an extended vacation requested all of the city's bank statements and brought the records from one account to the attention of Mayor James Burke, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago.

    Burke was unaware the account existed and went to the authorities because none of the withdrawals appeared to be related to legitimate city business, according to the complaint.

    Crundwell was charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.