Weather Updates

Dixon will recoup $40 million after Crundwell thefts

FILE - This November 2011 file phoprovided by The American Quarter Horse Journal shows RitCrundwell DixIll. posing with her horse

FILE - This November 2011 file photo, provided by The American Quarter Horse Journal shows Rita Crundwell, of Dixon, Ill., posing with her horse, Pizzazzy Lady, at the 2011 American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show in Oklahoma City. Crundwell, the Dixon comptroller, was arrested April 17, 2012 by the FBI and accused of siphoning off a staggering $30 million in funds from the city of Dixon to support her ranches. (AP Photo/Courtesy of The American Quarter Horse Journal)

storyidforme: 55566689
tmspicid: 10726893
fileheaderid: 4912771

Updated: October 28, 2013 7:17AM

For more than 20 years, former Comptroller Rita Crundwell somehow managed to steal $53 million in public money from the city of Dixon.

Now, after suing its auditors and Crundwell’s bank, the city will get about $40 million back under a settlement announced Wednesday by Dixon Mayor Jim Burke.

Accounting firm CliftonLarsonAllen, which signed off on the city’s finances, will pay the bulk of the money, $35.15 million, according to Chicago attorney Devon Bruce, who represented the city.

Fifth Third Bank — which according to the suit allowed Crundwell to establish a secret account through which she funneled city money for her personal expenses — will pay $3.85 million.

Certified Public Accountant firms Janis Card Company and Samuel S. Card CPA, which also audited Dixon, agreed to pay $1 million.

Bruce, of the law firm Power, Rogers & Smith, said his clients were “very happy” with the settlement. “It’s a complete win for the city.”

In a statement, Burke said that it was Bruce’s extensive pre-trial research, briefs and legal depositions that “brought all the players to the settlement table.”

The settlement talks began at 8 a.m. Friday and finished about 1:30 a.m. Saturday, according to Burke.

“A total of 37 participants attended, including the defendants, plaintiff, insurance companies, including Lloyds of London and their respective attorneys” Burke said.

Of the $40 million settlement, $10 million is expected to go for legal fees.

However, sales of Crundwell’s assets conducted by the federal government will raise at least $10 million, bringing the total recovery back up to $40 million, Burke said.

Crundwell, who was sentenced to prison for nearly 20 years, used the money she stole to fund a lavish lifestyle that featured a quarter horse breeding operation with a 20,000-square-foot barn and a $1 million 45-foot Liberty Coach motor home.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.