As Strapped Town Closed Pool, Treasurer Stole $30M

Trusted comptroller was champion embezzler, say investigators
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2012 2:39 AM CDT
Updated Apr 19, 2012 3:25 AM CDT
FBI agents led Crundwell, 58, away from City Hall in handcuffs.   (American Quarter Horse Association)

(Newser) – The people of Dixon in Illinois thought comptroller Rita Crundwell funded her lavish lifestyle through her successful horse-breeding operation. But investigators say she did it by robbing the small city blind. Crundwell, Dixon's finance chief since the early '80s, has been arrested and accused of embezzling more than $30 million over the last six years alone—more than $2,000 for each of its 15,700 residents, the Wall Street Journal notes. The city, best known as the boyhood home of Ronald Reagan, only has a budget of some $8 million a year.

Crundwell spent huge sums on her two horse farms and on luxuries including a $2.1 million top-end mobile home, reports the Chicago Tribune. She was busted after she took a few months off to operate the horse business, and an employee filling in noticed some suspicious bank statements. "I was sick to my stomach, and I kept hoping that there really wasn't anything going on," says Dixon's mayor. The town has suffered through major budget cuts in recent years which Crundwell blamed on the state. Residents say the public pool has been closed for the last few summers, and several other services have been cut back.

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