(CBS) — Former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell allegedly stole $53 million from the Northern Illinois city for almost 22 years, and now CBS 2 has an exclusive look inside the Florida vacation home that authorities say was financed and built using taxpayer dollars.
The 3,300-square-foot, 2-bedroom, 3-bathroom home is located in Englewood, Fla., about 80 miles south of Tampa, just outside Sarasota on the West Coast.
According to Charlotte County, Fla. property documents, Crundwell bought the land back in 2009 for $115,000. Construction on the existing structure started immediately expanding the home from the original 1,064 square foot home to its now 3,316 square feet. According to Charlotte County property documents, the house was assessed last year for $267,000.00.
CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey got an exclusive, first-hand look at the Florida vacation home. Authorities say almost all of the furniture in the home was custom-made from three different furniture dealers in Oklahoma City, OK.
Jason Wojdylo, chief inspector for the U.S. Marshal’s Service, says his office has obtained receipts showing that in late November 2010 Crundwell ordered more than $42,000 in custom furniture from a single dealer then had it shipped to the Florida location.
“No expense was spared in furnishing this property,” Wojdylo said.
He estimates that made-to-order pieces in Crundwell’s vacation home cost upwards of six figures. In addition to multiple custom-leather couches, chairs and ottomans, the house contains stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, ceramic tile floors, a made-to-order king sized bed with a longhorn head mount, multiple flat screen televisions, a hand-carved wood dining room table and buffet, numerous pieces of patio furniture and bar stools made of suede and cowhide.
Marshals are still tallying the estimated total amount that Crundwell’s furniture costs but they’re not expected to publicize the final appraised value.
Federal authorities now have an extensive inventory of Crundwell’s personal property. According to court documents, a federal judge ordered her five properties to be sold or auctioned at a later date.
They include: a single family residence located at 1679 U.S. Rt. 52 in Dixon (Crundwell’s personal residence); the horse ranch property located at 1556 Red Brick Road in Dixon; a single-family residence located at 1403 Dutch Road in Dixon, where some of Crundwell’s extended family currently lives; approximately 80 acres of vacant land located in Lee County, and the vacation property.
Her Florida home may not sell for much. That’s because it’s in the middle of a modest neighborhood.
“Look at the structures in this community,” Wojdylo says. “Most of them are cinder-block, sort of like building a castle in the middle of a relatively depressed area.”
So far, marshals have auctioned off more than 400 quarter horses, along with a 2008 custom motor home, 10 vehicles or trailers and numerous pieces of horse equipment. Marshals expect another auction to take place in the next 30 to 45 days.
Meanwhile, Crundwell is due back in federal court on Nov. 14 in Rockford. The former Dixon comptroller is also charged by the state with 60 counts of theft. For those charges, Crundwell is scheduled for arraignment in Lee County on Wednesday.
Rita Crundwell was the comptroller for the city of Dixon 1983 to 2012. Federal authorities allege that she stole $53 million from the city during her tenure. She was arrested at Dixon City Hall in April after Dixon Mayor James Burke found suspicious activity on city bank accounts.
Federal authorities have charged Crundwell with one count of wire fraud. She pleaded not guilty in federal court back in April when she was released on $4,500 bond.