Ex-Dixon comptroller pleads not guilty to theft

DIXON – Former Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell has pleaded not guilty to charges she siphoned millions of dollars in public funds into a secret bank account.

Crundwell on Wednesday appeared before Lee County Circuit Judge Ronald Jacobson for her arraignment on to 60 counts of theft tied to her alleged embezzlement of $53 million from the city's accounts. The case is separate from the federal case in Rockford in which Crundwell is charged with a single count of wire fraud.

Crundwell is suspected of stealing the money over two decades and using it to sustain a lavish lifestyle and a nationally renowned horse-breeding operation.

Federal authorities have auctioned off items Crundwell allegedly obtained with city funds. If Crundwell is convicted, the U.S. Marshal's Service and Dixon will get the money.