Longtime Comptroller Is Accused of Stealing $30M From Small Illinois Town in 6 Years
Posted Apr 18, 2012 10:41 AM CST
By Martha Neil
To major cities, $30 million might not seem like quite as much money. But for Dixon, Ill., with a population of about 15,000, it amounts to a little more than three times the city's annual budget.
That's why it was such a shock for officials to discover that a longtime trusted employee allegedly had stolen that much from Dixon in just six years, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Rita Crundwell, 58, who served both as Dixon's comptroller and treasurer, according to the city's website, was arrested Tuesday at work by FBI agents. She is charged with a single count of wire fraud and scheduled for a detention hearing Wednesday in federal court in Rockford.
"It's incredible really. In the last two years we've been really in a financial crunch with the whole thing," Mayor James Burke told the newspaper. "The annual audit didn't show anything. Auditors even commented that we were doing fine with our cash controls."
Crundwell, who served for 30 years as comptroller and was one of the small town's few full-time employees, allegedly used a secret account to funnel large amounts of cash from the city's coffers into her own hands. She is accused of spending much of the money on her Meri-J Ranch, at which she raised champion quarter horses, as well as $2.1 million on a luxurious motor home and $340,000 on jewelry.
A four-month absence last year led to the discovery of the claimed fraud, when another worker asked the city's bank for statements on all of the accounts and discovered the previously unknown account allegedly maintained by Crundwell. That employee went to the mayor, who went to the feds and then said nothing to anyone until Crundwell's arrest, the Tribune recounts.
The article doesn't include any comment from Crundwell or her counsel.