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Feds to auction indicted ex-Dixon comptroller’s horses

Phofrom U.S. Marshals office

Photo from U.S. Marshals office

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Updated: September 6, 2012 7:21PM

The U.S. Marshals Service will begin auctioning horses that once belonged to a city comptroller accused of stealing more than $53 million from a western Illinois city.

The government will sell the first 93 of Rita Crundwell’s herd of quarter horses in an online auction at beginning at noon Friday, according to the U.S. Marshals Service. The auction will end Monday for 46 of the horses and Tuesday for the other 47.

A live auction to sell more than 300 of Crundwell’s other horses will take place Sept. 23 and 24 in Dixon.

“Managing a herd this size since May has been challenging, but mostly the same caretakers and veterinarians that were managing the horses for the defendant have been managing the horses while they’ve been in custody,” U.S. Marshal Darryl McPherson of the Northern District of Illinois said in a statement.

“We are confident that we have maintained the value and quality of the herd for the thousands of people in the quarter horse industry who have been waiting for this opportunity,” the statement said.

Crundwell was one of the leading breeders of quarter horses in the country before being indicted for stealing money from the city to fund her lavish lifestyle.

A federal grand jury indicted the 58-year-old on May 1, charging one count of wire fraud for allegedly embezzling more than $30 million since 2006, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. Crundwell was arrested April 17 and since then, prosecutors said they have found she stole more than $53 million over at least 20 years.

Net proceeds from the sale of Crundwell’s assets will be applied toward restitution to Dixon should the government win its civil and criminal actions.

Crundwell had held the appointed position of Dixon comptroller since 1983 and handled all finances for the city, the complaint said. She earned an annual salary of $80,000.

Dixon Mayor James Burke reported Crundwell to law enforcement authorities last fall after another employee filled in during an extended unpaid vacation and noticed discrepencies, the complaint said.

Dixon is about 42 miles southwest of Rockford, with a population of about 15,733.

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