The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Illinois

December 24, 2013

Dixon receives $9.2M restitution in Crundwell case

DIXON, Ill. — Officials in Dixon have received a $9.2 million restitution check in the case of a thieving former bookkeeper who stole almost $54 million from the northern Illinois community.

The check from the U.S. Treasury arrived in the mail Monday, according to a report in The (Dixon) Telegraph.

The money comes from the sale of Rita Crundwell's belongings, including properties, a luxury motorhome, more than 400 horses and her jewelry collection. The marshals seized, managed and sold more than 500 of Crundwell's assets in 13 states.

Crundwell's thievery ranks as one of the worst abuses of public trust in the state's corruption-rich history. She pleaded guilty to federal charges and is serving a nearly 20-year sentence in a Minnesota federal prison. She used the money on a lavish lifestyle and horse breeding operation.

The $9.2 million is a net figure. Marshals actually raised $12.2 million from the sale of Crundwell's estate. The $9.2 million is less $1.8 million in expenses and $1.16 million in court-ordered claims.

Dixon also is recouping about $40 million in the Crundwell case from a legal settlement with a bank and auditor.

The theft went unnoticed for years because Crundwell had sole control of the city's bookkeeping, even as the city's finances suffered, with streets and equipment falling into disrepair and city employees going without raises. There wasn't even enough money to mow the grass at the cemetery.

The scheme unraveled only when a colleague who filled in for her when she went on an extended vacation in 2011 stumbled upon her secret account, prompting the mayor to call the FBI.

Dixon Mayor Jim Burke said the city plans to put the money into a fund for capital development. A strategic planning committee will help determine what projects should benefit from the payout.

Burke says those decisions likely won't happen until early next year after Dixon officials talk over the community's budget.

 

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