September 15, 2019

Somehow the City of Dixon, Illinois Just Noticed That $30 Million Was Missing

Rita Crundwell has been the CFO/comptroller of Dixon, Illinois since the 1980s; a typical tenure for even an unelected Illinois official. In those 30-ish years, it appears that she performed her duties adequately enough, but she was just put on unpaid leave. You see, at some point in 2006, it is alleged that Ms. Crundwell started helping herself to money that belonged to the citizens of Ronald Reagan's boyhood home. Prosecutors allege that this went for the last six years and that Crundwell made off with $30,236,503 (and 51¢). 

Federal agents served warrants and seized contents of her bank accounts, seven trucks and trailers, a $2 million motor home  and a Ford Thunderbird—all of which prosecutors allege were paid for with money taken from city bank accounts by Crundwell. […] 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.

So a decent haul, but a Ford Thunderbird? Good Christ, spring a bit for the Lincoln Continental at least. Questionable taste in automobiles aside, one can't help but wonder how Dixon – a city with a population of just ~15,000 – could not notice millions of dollars missing. But they did! It's strange because in a city of that size, people gossip about one another's $35 overdraft fees, never mind millions of dollars being spent on multi-million dollar motorhomes. Anyway, Crundwell (who has a thing for horses apparently) had a good thing going, but then made the mistake of taking a little extra vacation: 

[L]ast year she took an additional 12 weeks of unpaid vacation. A city employee substituting for Crundwell examined bank statements and notified the mayor of activity in an account that, according to the complaint, he didn't know existed. Bank records list the primary account holder as the City of Dixon. An entity named RSCDA also is named on the account, with checks written on the account more expansively identifying that second account holder as "R.S.C.D.A., C/O Rita Crundwell."

So basically the city discovere the missing cash by the virtue of dumb luck, which sometimes is what it takes for these things to get uncovered. Better late than, oh whatever… seriously, a Thunderbird?

Prosecutors: Dixon CFO embezzled $30M [CT]

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