Horse breeder accused of embezzling millions indicted

A former government official for a city in Illinois accused of fraudulently obtaining more than $53 million from the town since 1990 and using the proceeds to finance her horse breeding business and lavish lifestyle was indicted Tuesday.

A federal grand jury returned a single-count indictment charging Rita A. Crundwell with one count of wire fraud, announced Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert D. Grant, special agent-in-charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Crundwell is the former comptroller of the city of Dixon, Ill. The FBI said Crundwell embezzled millions and used the money to pay for championship horses at her ranch in Illinois and the Meri-J Ranch in Beloit.

Since Crundwell was arrested on April 17 and accused of misappropriating more than $30 million since 2006, further investigation resulted in the indictment’s expanded allegation that the fraud exceeded $53 million and spanned more than two decades, according a U.S. Department of Justice news release.

Crundwell, 59, of Dixon, who served as comptroller since 1983 and handled all of the city’s finances, was released on her own recognizance on April 18. She will be arraigned on May 7.