Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Illinois corruption: Reagan's hometown hit by $30 million embezzling scandal

Author in January, 2009
Dixon, Illinois, best known as Ronald Reagan's hometown, is reeling after federal officials yesterday accused its longtime treasurer and comptroller, Rita Crundwell, of embezzling $30 million from the town of 15,000 since 2006.

The annual budget of Dixon is in the $8 to $9 million range. Dixon's police chief, who hadn't heard about the scandal until yesterday morning, was asked how such an alleged theft could have taken place, he replied, "That's a good question."

Dixon's mayor, Jim Burke, who has known Crundwell since 1967, needs to furnish answers. Although he told the Chicago Tribune, "I guess people assumed she was making a ton of money in the horse business."

As for Crundwell, she's a legend in the tight-knit world of quarter horse breeding--a cross between Phil Jackson and Jerry Reinsdorf. Horses bred by her have garnered 52 championships.

More from the Trib:
The federal indictment alleged Crundwell raided millions from the town's accounts, including $3.2 million since just last fall. The thefts came to light when she took vacation and an employee filling in for her noticed suspicious transactions in several city accounts.

Bank records obtained by the FBI allegedly show Crundwell illegally withdrew $30,236,503 from Dixon accounts since July 2006, money she used, among other things, to buy a 2009 Liberty Coach Motor home for $2.1 million; a tractor truck for $147,000; a horse trailer for $260,000; and $2.5 million in credit card payments for items that included $340,000 in jewelry.
In front of Reagan's boyhood home
Crundwell owns ranches in Dixon and Wisconsin, the latter is advertising a July auction that almost certainly will be canceled.

The Chicago Tribune zooms in on how she allegedly pulled off her thievery:
Prosecutors said Crundwell handled all of the finances for the city. According to the city's website, she held down positions as both comptroller and treasurer. She even had a relative collect the town's mail from the post office each day, according to the charges.
That web site doesn't list a city manager either, which is a post Dixon clearly needs. Also, why is one person treasurer and comptroller? She worked in both jobs since 1983.

The regal Crundwell can be found at the two-minute mark in the following video. Look for the horse lady at the two-minute mark.

This was a challenging post to write because I justifiably wanted to spell her name "Crudwell."

I suppose a scandal such as the alleged Crundwell caper could happen anywhere, but sadly for the decent people here, "anywhere" is more likely to be some place in Illinois.

Illinois Review and Prairie State Report have more on this horse dung.

And finally, Dixon is a wonderful town located just north of Interstate 88. Please visit them, Lord knows they need the money.

Related posts:

Ronald Reagan Trail: Dixon
Ronald Reagan Trail: Lowell Park and 78 lives saved
Marathon Pundit's Ronald Reagan Trail
Midwestern Presidential Pathway: Dixon, a shining city upon a hill
Midwestern Presidential Pathway: Ronald Reagan's Dixon, Illinois
Ike, the military truck convoy, the Lincoln Highway, and Dixon, Illinois
The only statue of Lincoln in military dress is in Dixon, Illinois
New Reagan statue in Dixon, Illinois
On this day 155 years ago: Lincoln campaigns for Frémont in Dixon, IL

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Cal Skinner said...

Wonder who the outside auditors were.

John Ruberry said...

Unhappy ones now, Cal!