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Dixon, IL Reacts To Comptroller Indictment & $53 Million

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First people in Dixon, IL thought it was just $30 million and that was shocking enough. But now former comptroller Rita Crundwell is accused of misappropriating $53 million and doing it over more than two decades. She’s charged with one count of wire fraud.

Further investigation uncovered the extra millions of dollars. A federal indictment alleges Crundwell created fake state documents to cover her tracks since 1990. It also says they’ll seize the $53 million dollars as well as numerous assets. Documents show Crundwell has two residences and horse farm in Dixon, a home in Englewood, Florida, a $2 million motor home, more than a dozen trucks, a pontoon boat, and hundreds of horses. A civil suit also seeks more than 300 quarter horses allegedly bought with bad money to sell for restitution for the city of Dixon.

Many say this is adding insult to injury. “People are angry. It hurt them in their pockets,” said Wesley Morss, one Dixon resident.

Disbelief, disgust and outrage are just a few of the emotions residents have right now. “It makes it a lot worse. People were hurt over $30 million. If they weren’t, I don’t know why they weren’t, but $53 million that’s really a sucker punch,” said Jennifer De Maria.

Some aren’t all that surprised. “I’m not as in shock as you’d think. Originally I thought it was worse, I still think it’s worse than this,” added Morss.

“I think there was too much trust. I think there should be more than one person watching one another,” said Chris Mengle, another resident.

Lifelong resident, Jennifer De Maria is behind an online complaint page and planned protests that are calling for others to be held accountable. “That’s such a long time for that kind of money to just come up missing and everybody go, it was only her. It’s deeper than that,” she said.

In the last more than two decades in which Crundwell is accused of embezzling the money, Mayor Jim Burke tells KWQC that the city has gone through five councils, three mayors, three finance commissioners, and 20 audits. “It’s incredible this got by and never got caught,” said Burke. As part of the scheme, Crundwell is accused of creating fake invoices from the state of Illinois that showed city funds were being used legitimately, when they were instead being deposited into a secret account.

“Apparently she was throwing the auditors off with that,” said Mayor Burke.

The indictment also says Crundwell told city leaders the state was late in payments to the city. Now, many are wondering if there will be more charges and if investigations will reveal more people involved.

Mayor Burke says there will be new details on the city’s next steps discussed during Monday’s city council meeting. There is an internal investigation going on and the city is looking for substantial restitution.

Crundwell’s one charge of wire fraud could land her in prison for up to twenty years and multiple fines. She is slated for an arraignment on Monday in Rockford.

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