Dixon comptroller who stole $53M wants lighter sentence
CHICAGO – An attorney for a former small-town Illinois bookkeeper who stole a staggering $53 million in public funds is arguing for a lenient prison sentence, saying the woman has cooperated with investigators since her arrest and must endure "disrepute and shame" for the rest of her life.
For more than two decades, Rita Crundwell, the former comptroller in the northern Illinois city of Dixon, which is best known as Ronald Reagan's boyhood home, used the stolen money to fund her nationally renowned horse-breeding operation and luxurious tastes. She's scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 14 for what federal prosecutors have called one of the most significant abuses of public trust ever in corruption-plagued Illinois. She faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty in November to a felony count of wire fraud.
Crundwell, who had sole control of the city's finances for years, siphoned funds into a secret bank account and hid the scheme by producing fictitious invoices for things like municipal sewer projects. All the while, the money was going toward prize-winning horses, expensive jewelry, luxury cars and even birthday bashes in Venice Beach, Fla.
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