Court upholds nearly prison sentence for former Dixon comptrolle

Court upholds nearly prison sentence for former Dixon comptroller

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DIXON, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

A federal appeals court has upheld the 235-month prison sentence for the former Dixon city comptroller who pled guilty last year to embezzling $53 million over 20 years.

A three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago reached the unanimous opinion Friday in the case of Rita Crundwell, who embezzled the funds between 1990 and 2012, and used it to support a lavish lifestyle which included owning more than 400 quarter houses, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

After suing its auditors and Crundwell's bank, the city will get about $40 million back under a settlement announced in September by Mayor Jim Burke.

Accounting firm CliftonLarsonAllen, which signed off on the city's finances, will pay the bulk of the money, $35.15 million, according to Chicago attorney Devon Bruce, who represented the city.

Fifth Third Bank — which according to the suit allowed Crundwell to establish a secret account through which she funneled city money for her personal expenses — will pay $3.85 million.

CPA firms Janis Card Company and Samuel S. Card CPA, which also audited Dixon, agreed to pay $1 million.

Bruce, of the law firm Power, Rogers & Smith, said his clients were "very happy" with the settlement. "It's a complete win for the city."

Of the $40 million settlement, $10 million is expected to go for legal fees.

However, sales of Crundwell's assets conducted by the federal government will raise at least $10 million, bringing the total recovery back up to $40 million, Burke said.

Crundwell, who was sentenced to prison for nearly 20 years, used the money in part to run a quarter horse breeding operation with a 20,000-square-foot barn and a $1 million, 45-foot Liberty Coach motor home.

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