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Crundwell personal items may be sold online

Judge signs order Wednesday to auction more items

DIXON – Hundreds of personal items that belong to ousted Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell may soon be up for auction – online.

An online auction rather than a large public auction of items seized from Crundwell’s Dixon and Florida homes makes more fiscal sense, said Jason Wojdylo, chief inspector of the marshals asset forfeiture division.

“My objective from day one has been to mitigate costs,” he said. “There are a lot of costs associated with holding a live auction.”

A final decision hasn’t been made, Wojdylo said. However, if marshals go that route, the online auction could be in December, he added.

Wojdylo says marshals will draft a solicitation for an auction company, which they hope to post online next week.

The items have been in possession of marshals since Crundwell was indicted in May on a single federal charge of wire fraud in connection with what prosecutors say is the misappropriation of more than $53 million in city funds since 1990.

She has a status hearing next week.

In Lee County, she is charged with 60 counts of theft for stealing more than $11 million since January 2010, according to the indictment returned Sept. 20.

She will have a pretrial conference next month.

Over the past several months, marshals have been given the green light by a federal judge to sell Crundwell’s personal items, several properties, vehicles, and her herd of more than 400 horses.

Neither Crundwell nor her attorneys have objected to the sale.

Marshals have utilized both online and traditional live auctions to dispose of multiple items.

Marshals and Virginia-based Professional Auction Services sold Crundwell’s herd of horses – both online and in a live auction – and tack, vehicles, and trailers for more than $6.4 million in September.

Her 2009 Liberty Elegant Lady Coach luxury motor home netted $800,000 in an online auction, and 11 of her trucks and vehicles were sold for $182,950 at an auction in Chicago.

Proceeds from the sale, minus costs, will be held in escrow until Crundwell’s federal case is resolved.

On Wednesday, Magistrate Judge P. Michael Mahoney granted a request to sell more tack, tools, furniture, a 1995 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup, and other items.

Marshals also can sell breeding laboratory equipment, which, Wojdylo said, Crundwell bought for about $100,000.

Wojdylo said that likely would be auctioned online soon by Professional Auction Services, which has a contract with marshals that expires Nov. 15.

Wojdylo previously said he expected to have a public auction of Crundwell’s personal items in Dixon, while the items in her swanky vacation home in Englewood, Fla., would likely be auctioned online.

With a traditional auction come costs such as shipping items to Dixon, setting up portable toilets, hiring parking attendants, and setting up a live simulcast to allow for online viewing and bidding.

Those costs would be paid by the auction company, which could result in a higher commission or buyer’s premium (a commission paid on top of the bid price), Wojdylo said.

That could deter people from bidding, resulting in lower restitution for the city if Crundwell is convicted, Wojdylo said.

Online auctions are a “commercially accepted practice” that offer items to a much bigger audience.

Those in the horse industry may be more inclined to bid on some of Crundwell’s western-themed items, such as the horsehide chairs, Wojdylo said. 

For those who are nervous about bidding online, the marshals may have them covered.

Wojdylo said he was talking with the city about setting up a computer lab, where locals could get help bidding during the auction.

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