CHICAGO- Wednesday, April 18, 2012: For years Rita Crundwell has kept an eye over virtually every dollar that passed through the small town of Dixon's coffers as city comptroller while also running one of the most successful horse farms in America. On Tuesday FBI agents led Crundwell from City Hall in handcuffs on charges she misappropriated more than $30 million in city funds in just the last six years. Much of the money went to pay to operate the champion horse breeder's Meri-J Ranch, authorities alleged.
In spite of a city salary of just $80,000 a year, Crundwell lived extravagantly, spending huge sums on her horse farms in Dixon and Beloit that raised champion quarter horses as well as $340,000 on jewelry since mid-2006 and $2.1 million to buy a luxury motor home fit for a rock star.
Crundwell's apparent downfall came because she took off four months a year - all but a month unpaid - to operate the horse business and travel to shows.
She was also one of the best horse breeders in the world - her Meri-J Ranch in Beloit produced more than 50 world champions, according to the American Quarter Horse Association.
Among the items prosecutors claim she purchased with stolen city funds were two semi-tractor trailers and a horse trailer worth nearly $1 million combined.
Between January 2007 and March 2012, she is accused of racking up more than $2.5 million in her personal American Express card and using funds from the secret city bank account to pay them off.
Resource: The Bellingham Herald, http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2012/04/17/2485758/small-illinois-town-shocked-as.html#storylink=cpy by Andy Grimm and Melissa Jenco - Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-prosecutors-dixon-cfo-embezzled-30m-20120417,0,7568528.story
More links to this story
AQHA Breeder Arrested by FBI, Charged
See court documents and more up to date info at this link: View Complaint, View Seizure Documents, 69 Page Warrant Details Crundwell Seizure, Horse Breeder in Theft Scandal Fired, Rita Crundwell: Free on Bond
Dixon official accused of theft free on bond
Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2012/04/18/2146329/dixon-official-accused-of-theft.html#storylink=cpy
Renowned horse breeder accused in $30M theft from tiny Ill. city, prompts calls for scrutiny http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/renowned-horse-breeder-accused-in-30m-theft-from-tiny-ill-city-prompts-calls-for-scrutiny/2012/04/18/gIQAxIYdRT_story.html
(Pictured R - This Nov. 2011 photo provided on April 18, 2012, by The American Quarter Horse Journal, shows Rita Crundwell, of Dixon, Ill., posing with Pizzazzy Lady at the 2011 American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show in Oklahoma City. (Photo/The American Quarter Horse Journal)
Champion Horse Breeder Arrested for Missing $30 Million http://www.cnbc.com/id/47101170/Champion_Horse_Breeder_Arrested_for_Missing_30_Million
Staggering $30M theft from tiny Ill. city
* "One source says 40,000 to 55,000 are stolen each year." - These numbers are based on a study done in the late 90's. There are no current numbers available.
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