Crundwell's horses called 'Packin Jewels', 'Have Faith in Money'
April 2, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- What's in a name? A lot if you're accused of stealing from taxpayers. That's what the former comptroller for the city of Dixon, Illinois is learning as federal investigators seek to seize control of Rita Crundwell's prized horses.
Prosecutors say Crundwell siphoned off as much as $53 million from the city of Dixon and used it to bankroll her high profile horse breeding business. Crundwell's prize winning quarter horses have names like "Potential Fortune," "Have Faith in Money," "Sum for Me," "Packin Jewels" and "I Found a Penny," according to documents filed in federal court. Dixon's mayor, city council and residents have all said they were stunned to learn Crundwell's fortune may have come from the tax dollars she was hired to oversee and not her horse business. However, if they had pieced together the names of her animals mad lib style perhaps they have found a few clues right before their eyes.
"Jewels by Tiffany" is the name of one such quarter horse. Ironic, considering Crundwell is accused of using Dixon's money to buy $340,000 worth of high-end jewelry. Another horse goes by the moniker "She Scores," which if the charges are true, Rita Crundwell definitely did up until the day she was arrested and charged at City Hall. Dixon residents have been abuzz since her arrest. "How could it happen?" they ask repeatedly. Many shake their heads at her alleged moxie, which coincidentally, is the name of another of her horses.
The FBI and prosecutors say Crundwell used taxpayer money to fund what they call a "lavish lifestyle." She bought a $2.1 million dollar motor home, a place in Florida and spent millions on the care and feeding of her animals. If the charges prove true, Crundwell used Dixon as her personal piggybank --the "Ultimate Tool" -- which, you guessed it, is another name of a horse in her stable.
Senator wants government checkbook 'Upload'
While it's probably not what Crundwell had in mind when she named a horse "Upload," it's exactly what State Senator Dan Duffy (R) of Barrington wants to do with all of the government checkbooks. According to a release, Senate Bill 3392 would require school boards, towns and municipalities to post their checkbooks online.
"If you look at the city of Dixon's website, there is almost no financial information available to the public. Without filing onerous Freedom of Information Act requests, the public had no mechanism for holding its city officials accountable or investigating the finances themselves," said Sen. Duffy, R-Lake Barrington, in the release.
That, Duffy said, would lead to more transparency. The bill was announced on Wednesday, just two weeks after Crundwell's arrest.
local, ben bradley
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