Reporting Marissa Bailey
CHICAGO (CBS) – Former Dixon city comptroller Rita Crundwell pleaded not guilty in Lee County Court to 60 counts of theft on Wednesday.
Crundwell is accused of embezzling $53 million from the city over a 20-year period, and faces 60 state charges of theft. She also faces a federal wire fraud charge.
Federal investigators have said, throughout the time she was allegedly stealing taxpayer money, Crundwell built an empire in Dixon. CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey got an exclusive look inside her personal residence, a multi-million dollar home.
With U.S. Marshal’s as escorts, CBS 2 was the only television station to get a tour of Crundwell’s home in Dixon, where she lived during the time federal investigators say she stole money from the city of Dixon.
Like her vacation home in Florida, it’s big, bold, and even has a baby grand piano.
“The master bedroom is very large, and so it has its own office up a flight of stairs. That speaks volumes for what it must have cost to build,” said Jason Wojdylo, chief inspector for the U.S. Marshals Service.
But building it was just the beginning.
Crundwell filled the 3-bedroom , 4-bathroom house with one-of-a-kind Western winners; like an oversized cowhide couch, a dining room chandelier with revolver accents, a baby grand piano, grandfather clock, stainless steel Viking appliances, multiple flat screen TV’s, custom coffee tables, oversized desk furniture and western lamps.
“It is my understanding that, as she traveled to horse shows – that is, the defendant – she would purchase a piece here, or purchase a piece there, load them up into her horse trailers … and she would transport those pieces back to here in Dixon,” Wojdylo said.
The pieces are now tagged to be sold at auction. As custom as some of them are, dated VCRs, televisions, and gym equipment are found throughout the house. Those, too, will be sold, along with the property itself.
“It’s about 6 acres here,” Wojdylo said.
And what a property it is.
The 6-acre property also comes with an inground pool, hot tub, 7 stall heated and air conditioned kennel, a small horse barn with a show ring and acres of land used to maintain Crundwell’s quarter horse hobby.
It’s all part of the expansive personal space where Crundwell lived, at the same time she allegedly was stealing money from the small town of Dixon.
Federal marshals expect to have the auction of Crundwell’s personal belongings completed by the end of the year. Once the auction is completed, Crundwell’s five properties will be sold or auctioned off. Her Florida vacation home will also go up for sale.
She is due back in federal court in Rockford on Nov. 14. She is due back in Lee County court on Dec. 19.