Inside Rita Crundwell homes, now up for auction
December 7, 2012 (DIXON, Ill.) (WLS) -- U.S. Marshals allowed an up-close look at items inside former Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell's home on Friday as they go on the auction block.
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Crundwell admitted stealing from taxpayers of Dixon to fund a lavish lifestyle and through the weekend many of the items she purchased will be sold to the highest bidder.
In the working class town of 16,000, the opulence and grandeur of Crundwell's home stand out, if for nothing else than the fact you know it all came from the people's money.
It's not the first place you see upon entering Crundwell's former home, but when you get to the bedroom you know you're in the inner sanctum of an unconventional palace.
It's bigger than some Chicago homes and it is topped by an office full, like the rest of the house, of custom furniture.
"It was a rather lavish lifestyle," said Jason Wojdylo, Chief Inspector, US Marshal Service. "The way the home was constructed, money was not spared in constructing and completing it."
Everything is tagged for a U.S. Marshal-administered auction that ends Saturday. It includes all the furniture and appliances, including a tanning bed, and truly one-of-a-kind items crafted for Crundwell's western motif.
"Much of the money will not recoverable," Wojdylo said. That's not unusual in fraud case. Over 21 years, there were a lot of consumables that that money was spent on. Unfortunately, we will not be able to recover that, but certainly any asset that we can identify that has value, we will pursue."
Beyond the baby grand piano, the luxurious sofas and the grandfather clock, there's a pool, sauna and heated dog kennels, not to mention 400 acres of land to sell. So far, the Marshal Service has recovered $7.4 million from Crundwell's estate.
It will add to that total, as well, by selling a home she owned four miles away, now rented by a nephew, and the stables where she bred hundreds of award winning quarter horses.
"$53 million is a lot of money," said Wojdylo. "As I understand it, this case has been documented as the single largest municipal fraud in U.S. history. Most people might think that something like this would go on in New York or Chicago or a large metropolitan city. I think what's unique about this case is where it occurred.
Stables and rental house have received unsolicited offers. No value has been placed on all of it, but Marshals say it is unlikely to equal how much she stole, which was $53 million.
Crundwell will be sentenced February 14th. She has cooperated with the investigation and her defense is asking for 12 years, but the prosecution is closer to 19 years in federal prison.
local, ravi baichwal
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